When it comes to choosing what to eat on a daily basis, most of us don't think about the environmental impact of our food. Some of us choose to avoid thinking about where our food comes from and how it's made, probably because we know that the reality is not pretty. Others simply just do not know the ways our food is made.
Food is food. Why should we have to think so much about the thing that keeps us alive? We may feel that we're doing our part to keep this planet clean and healthy by recycling or riding our bikes to class, but the reality is that it's time to start paying more attention to our food choices. If you care about our lovely planet, try avoiding these seven foods.
I have some sad news for all of the smoothie lovers, banana ice cream addicts, and banana pancake fanatics. Bananas are ruining the planet. Have you ever seen a banana at your local farmers market? Probably not because they're usually grown in South America, traveling thousands of miles to get to American grocery stores, where they're sold, which releases loads of carbon into the atmosphere.Bananas are also wrapped in plastic when they're transported so grocery stores can differentiate between conventional, organic, and fair trade bananas. Don't know what you'll ever do without bananas? If you're missing the creaminess of your smoothies, try adding some avocado. I know it sounds weird but avocados have a very neutral taste and are super creamy and are actually delicious in smoothies.
Rice uses one-third of the world's annual freshwater. This crop makes your 45-minute showers seem like nothing (please don't take this as me promoting long showers). Rice is so tasty but there are countless other grains that can easily replace it, and are usually healthier. If you love fried rice, try this Chicken Quinoa Fried Rice. You can also make cauliflower rice, which is lower in carbs and better for the environment.
We all probably saw this one coming, but really, beef is one of the worst things you can eat if you're thinking of conserving our planet. For every quarter-pound of beef you eat (typical hamburger size), about 600 gallons of water are used. On top of that, more green house gas emissions come from cows than from the transportation industry.
Cows produce huge amounts of waste that can pollute nearby streams. Going meatless even once a week can decrease your carbon footprint by an incredible amount. Think you could never go without meat? Try this meatless burger recipe and you won't even notice it is gone.
I don't know about you guys, but hearing about the impacts coffee may have on our environment made me shed a few tears. I am wholeheartedly addicted to coffee and I will be the first one to admit that. But we must face the reality that coffee is destroying our world's ecosystems.
There has been such an increase in demand for coffee that trees are being deforested at a high rate. Coffee is grown in sunny areas that have been deforested and harsh chemicals are used to make it grow super fast and efficiently.
So how are we ever going to find a replacement for coffee, it is really a hard one. If you for sure can never give up coffee (me), look for coffee that's locally grown or that's certified by the Rainforest Alliance. You can also try some tea, black tea has the most caffeine.
5. Palm Oil
Think that you don't consume palm oil often? You'd be surprised. This stuff is in everything from ice cream to granola bars to soaps and probably the foundation you use every day. Palm oil is causing major deforestation of the rain forests that contain some of the most amazing species on our planet, including adorable and intelligent orangutans.
Palm oil is often disguised as vegetable oil on ingredient lists so avoid that. It's in the majority of processed food so try eating more whole foods. Look for recipes to make home made versions of your favorite processed food, like these DIY Oreos.
6. Bottled Water
Bottled water is a huge problem for the environment. Every bottle of water takes over 1,000 years to biodegrade. Plastic is a wasteful material that absorbs toxins that can pollute the soil and bodies of water. The good news is that the alternative is simple: spend about $15 on a reusable water bottle. This will save you money over time and will help save our environment. Why spend $2 on a water bottle every time you're thirsty when you can just fill up a reusable one at the nearest water fountain!
Corn is used in so many things that we consume on a daily basis. It's produced to make corn syrup and vegetable oil, is in basically all processed foods, and it's grown to feed cattle. It uses the most land out of any crop in the United States.
The bad thing about corn is that it's grown in huge monocultures. This means large fields are used for only corn and the corn ruins the soil. This method of growing corn also requires many chemicals and water. How to avoid corn? Use olive or coconut oils instead of vegetable oil. Avoid corn products with corn syrup, it's bad for the planet and your health. Use tortillas made from whole grains instead of corn tortillas.
This list of foods may seem a little daunting. We're so used to consuming many of them on a daily basis, but at the end of the day, all we can do is try our best. While eliminating these foods completely from our diets is best, it's not completely realistic. Making an effort to just lower your consumption of these foods is better than giving up.