Advocate for Policies that Promote and Support Sustainable Food Systems
Currently, state and national farm policies heavily support, subsidize and provide special protections for our industrialized food system — a system that is imposing huge social costs in the form of resource use and ecological abuse. We need laws and policies that require the agriculture industry to internalize these social costs so that food prices reflect the true cost of production, remove special protections, and incentivize the return to a more local, diversified and sustainable food system.
Learn how you can advocate for laws that promote a sustainable food system on our Bill Watch page.
What we eat matters. Unfortunately, the environmental impacts of our food can be easily overlooked because those impacts are spread across many stages of a long process. From farm to plate, food production, processing and transportation can use massive amounts of fossil fuels, water, and chemicals and release global warming emissions and other pollution into the environment. Fortunately, small changes in what we eat can add up to significant environmental benefits.
For example, the “carbon footprint” of a hamburger includes all of the fossil fuels used to produce the fertilizer and pump the irrigation water to grow the corn that fed the cow, and may also include emissions from converting forest land to grazing land. Meat from ruminant animals has a particularly large carbon footprint because of the methane released from the animals’ digestion and manure. Indeed, livestock production accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions including 9 percent of carbon dioxide and 37 percent of methane gas emissions worldwide. To put this into perspective, if all Americans eliminated just one quarter-pound serving of beef per week from their diets, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking four to six million cars off the road.
“Eating Green” means eating lower on the food chain by adding more fruits, vegetables and grains to your diet and limiting your intake of meat. Doing so can also reduce your risk of coronary disease and colorectal cancer. Make sure to choose fresh foods with the fewest process steps such as freezing, packaging, processing, cooking and refrigerating which all increase energy and water use and pollution. It’s also important to buy organic foods when you can because organic growers don’t use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers which degrade air and water quality. Finally, choose locally sourced food options whenever possible to help reduce the pollution and energy use associated with transporting, storing and refrigerating food over long distances.
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