Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd and we invite you to help us celebrate by making a commitment to eat only organic and natural food on that day. Eating organic and natural food is the best way to promote sustainability. Since we spend so much of our time and energy each day buying, preparing and consuming food, even small changes we make to our diet have a powerful ripple effect on our health and the health of the planet. Choosing to eat organic and natural, even just for one day, helps to lower carbon dioxide emissions, conserve fresh water, replenish soil fertility and reduce pesticide and herbicide use, among many other benefits.
Sustainability is a popular buzzword in the environmental movement, but do you really know what it means? Ultimately, sustainability means developing a society that is in harmony with the natural world, preserves biodiversity and doesn’t exhaust our natural resources. There are a lot of ways to promote sustainability in society, but the biggest and most important is to encourage sustainable agriculture.
The easiest way to support sustainable agriculture is to throw your purchasing power behind organic and natural foods. Farmers who make a commitment to organic and natural foods are promoting the principles and practices of sustainability in numerous ways. To begin with, they avoid the use of harmful chemicals such as toxic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and they prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), toxic sludge, irradiation, and other production methods that are harmful for the environment.
This is important because pesticides used in non-organic farming are wiping out entire species of beneficial microorganisms, insects, butterflies, and birds. Because everything in nature is connected, when one species disappears, it can affect the entire ecosystem. Often, it’s all the small animals, insects, birds, and microorganisms like bacteria and fungus that we don’t see that have the most powerful effect on preserving the balance of nature. Sustainable, organic farming uses natural pesticides that deter harmful insects without killing useful ones. It helps build soil fertility by encouraging beneficial microorganisms and it helps maintain biodiversity by planting a wide range of different crops that work together to preserve nutrients in the soil.
Manufacturers also have a strong role to play in promoting sustainability by producing foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Natural foods are any foods that contain no hormones, antibiotics, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives that were not in the original food, and are minimally processed. While the term “natural” is not regulated in the same way as “organic,” you can use common sense criteria to determine which foods are really all natural, sustainable and best for your health.
Before you eat anything, take a look at the label - if there are ingredients you can’t pronounce, have only seen or heard of before in chemistry class, or if it is a combination of letters and numbers, don't eat it! These ingredients are often chemicals, synthetic additives and preservatives that collect in the fat tissues of your body and can create toxicity. In addition, the majority of these ingredients have likely been produced in an industrial process that creates large amounts of pollution and waste. Natural foods also include bulk grains, beans, cereals and other dry goods which are beneficial for the environment because they use less packaging.
Because we all need food to live, agriculture is a huge part of our society and it impacts everything in our environment. If you don’t have time to plant a tree or ride a bike to work, don’t worry! Simply by making a commitment to eat local, fresh, organic, and natural foods, you can make a difference. This Earth Day, we hope you’ll join us in supporting organic farmers and others who make a commitment to promote sustainability by the food they make and grow. You’ll feel better, and the planet will thank you.