Organic products are grown without synthetic pesticides and herbicides and processed without the addition of synthetic chemicals. Ingredients also aren't irradiated or genetically modified. Synthetic chemicals come from crude oil and require more crude oil to manufacture. In addition, the farmers growing your organic choices won't be adding those petrochemicals to the soil, and you won't be ingesting trace amounts with the food. One test by the Organic Consumers Association, or OCA, found traces of 38 pesticides and herbicides in a popular cereal.
Some organic options are more expensive.
Other products, like cereal and
some fruits and vegetables, are
very competitive. The secret: Compare
prices, buy produce in season and
don't buy more than you can use.
Many larger retailers and specialty
grocers carry a wide selection of
organics and you can find a list
of smaller local retailers in OCA's
Guide. If you can't afford to
go all organic, try to buy organic
versions of the most chemically
treated fruits and vegetables: peaches,
apples, celery, sweet bell peppers
and nectarines. Learn how your favorites
rank or get a downloadable guide
Buy foods produced locally.
The idea "is really picking up speed," says Jennifer Powers, spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We don't think about the energy used in shipping." In addition, you'll be supporting the local farmers, many of whom are using more earth-friendly farming methods, she says.
Often, locally produced food is
less expensive. On average, U.S.
supermarket food travels 1,500 to
2,500 miles before it reaches the
family table. Buying local foods
can reduce the amount of petroleum
consumed to transport your dinner
by as much as 95 percent. Of the
total energy used in the U.S. per
year, 4 percent was used to produce
food and 10 percent to 13 percent
was used to transport it. And you
boost the local economy.
Add vegan meals to your diet.
Electing to go vegan for just one meal a week can impact the planet, says Bruce Friedrich, vice president of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Theoretically, we could feed more people with a similar amount of resources, says Friedrich. Forty million people die of starvation-related causes annually, says Friedrich. But animal-based calories take an average of six to 20 times the amount of resources to produce as plant-based calories, he says.