Photo: Corn Growing in a Field

by Manjari Fergusson

It’s true:  your diet can go a long way toward reducing your carbon footprint – that is, each of us contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. In addition to the cars we drive and energy we use at home, the production of the food and goods we use also releases greenhouse gases.

Your ‘carbon footprint’ is the sum of all emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by your activities or choices in a given time frame. It measures your impact on our climate. Everything has a carbon footprint – individual lifestyles, businesses and even countries.

Therefore it’s important to try to leave as light a ‘footprint’ as possible – and that’s where eating local, fresh, organic and plant-based comes into play. 

  • Eating Local:  Buying local supports our Island economy and avoids using fossil fuels to ship food from the mainland and other parts of the world. In addition, local food is more flavorful and rich in nutrients. 

  • Fresh:  Buying fresh produce can help keep factory-processed foods to a minimum, while reducing additives, sugars, and empty calories. Supporting fresh, local produce also helps maintain local farmland.

  • Organic:  Foods that are grown organically are free of the industrial agricultural chemicals and pesticides found on conventional produce. Organic produce is grown in rich, natural soil. Not only is it better for our bodies, eating organically is better for the environment too. The chemicals and pesticides that are used on nonorganic produce are linked to the harming of soil health, insects and animals, in addition to contaminating ground water supplies. 

  • Plant-based:  Eating a plant-based diet has been shown to have a significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissionsi. In fact, in 2006, the United Nations reported that livestock production is the biggest contributor to greenhouse emissions.ii So the best thing you can do to for the planet and for your health is to eat more plant-based foods and less meat. Plant-based diets are supported by major health institutions including the United States Department of Agricultureiii, American Heart Associationiv, American Diabetes Associationv, and the American Cancer Societyvi.

 The “Go Veggie” section on our website has more information. 

Footnotes: 
  1. Environmental Working Group “Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change and Health” July 2011. http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/meateaters/pdf/report_ewg_meat_eaters...
  2. Livestock a major threat to environment,” United Nations FAO Newsroom, Nov. 29, 2006: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html
  3. Zeng, Huawei “A Plant-Based Diet is a Healthy Choice” USDA, October 23, 2006.
  4. American Heart Association, “Semi-veggie diet effectively lowers heart disease, stroke risk” March 5, 2015. https://news.heart.org/semi-veggie-diet-effectively-lowers-heart-disease...
  5. American Diabetes Association, “Vegetarian diets: An option for people with diabetes?”
  6. American Cancer Society, “American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention” 2012. http://www.polk-fl.net/staff/employeeinfo/wellness/documents/ACScancergu...