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FOOD SHOPPING FOR THE EARTH

Here are Some Simple Things You Can Do for Health -
Yours and the Earth's

Choosing food grown in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible isn't as difficult toput into practice as you might think. The following eight steps will help you in planning your family'sdiet and making healthier, greener food choices.

1. Eat a variety of food

When you eat a wide variety of food, a broad range of nutritional requirements is likely to be met.You also draw on biological diversity. The proliferating "variety" in supermarkets does not reflectbiological variety, since so many of the hundreds of available products are made from the samerelatively few raw food materials - corn, wheat, rice and potatoes. People today rely on just 20varieties of plants for 90 percent of their food. Instead, you can eat a wider variety of whole foodsinstead of food novelties, whose claims to diversity are based on processing techniques andartificial colors and flavors.

2. Buy locally produced food

The average mouthful of food travels 1,300 miles from farm to factory to warehouse tosupermarket to our plates. In comparison, food available from local farms is almost always fresher,tastier and closer to ripeness. Buying local products also supports growers in your region, therebypreserving farming near where you live, and requiring less energy for transport. Since theproduction of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is more economical if the farmers have outletsfor their produce nearby, local marketing should be encouraged. And, because it isn't beingshipped long distances, local food is less likely to have been treated with post-harvest pesticides.

3. Buy produce in season

Out-of-season produce is extravagant because it is energy-intensive to ship food long distances.Out-of-season produce is also more likely to have been imported, possibly from a country withless stringent pesticide regulations than the United States. Eating "winter" fruits and vegetables, suchas root crops, and frozen produce, especially from local producers is your best option during thewinter months. Frozen foods retain much of their nutritional content, in addition to cutting energycosts. Call your state's Department of Agriculture for a free seasonal harvest calendar for yourarea. Many states also offer a pick-your-own guide to the locale.

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Written by Wendy Gordon


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