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FOOD SHOPPING FOR THE EARTH

4. Buy organically produced food

Organically grown means that the food has been grown in a practical, ecological partnership withnature. Generally, organic food is minimally processed to maintain its integrity without artificialingredients, preservatives or irradiation. Organic certification is the public's guarantee that theproduct has been grown and handled according to strict procedures without synthetic chemicalinputs. Look for a certified organic label whenever buying organic food.

5. Eat fresh, whole foods with adequate starch and fiber

Whole foods - including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes (beans), nuts and seeds - are thehealthiest foods we can eat. The National Cancer Institute recommends we each "strive for five"servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day since the complex carbohydrates and fiber they containplay a major beneficial role in protecting against cancer, heart disease and common digestiveailments.

6. Eat fewer & smaller portions of animal products

Modern meat production involves intensive use of grain, water, energy and grazing areas. It takesabout 390 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. Almost half of the energy used inAmerican agriculture goes into livestock production. Cattle and other livestock consume more than70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and about a third of the world's total grainharvest. Animal agriculture also produces surprisingly large amounts of air and water pollution.Animal products, especially beef, are also a major source of fat in the U.S. diet. Reducing meatconsumption and eating lower on the food chain protects us against heart disease, cancer anddiabetes.

7. Choose minimally processed and packaged foods

After it leaves the farm, food is subjected to a variety of processes (including packaging), most ofwhich use fossil energy and remove naturally-occurring nutrients. A typical highly processed (andhighly advertised) "food product" may contain on average only seven percent real food. Processingprovides no value to the biological variety of the diet when the refined food fraction is convertedinto hundreds of products high in fat, salt or sugar.

8. Prepare your own meals at home

Cooking from scratch can involve a little more labor and a little more time, but you can be sureyou'll save money and resources, because you're not paying someone else to prepare your food, toadd nutrients removed in processing, to put it in a box or can, to ship it across the country and toadvertise it in slick TV commercials. You will also provide your family with healthier, morenutritious food since you are starting with fresh ingredients. And, cooking from scratch can be itsown reward, providing a truly creative outlet which brings you pleasure and joy, rejuvenates thefamily meal, and nourishes our bodies and souls.

Written by Wendy Gordon, reprinted from The Green Guide for Everyday Life, #13

Wendy Gordon is co-founder and Acting Executive Director ofMothers & Others for a Livable Planet.


Where to Shop

Conventional supermarkets

For most of us, our food comes from conventional supermarkets. But these huge "super" foodstores, for the most part, provide us with food from huge food conglomerates and industrial farms.But for all their drawbacks, supermarkets are improving. A smattering of them are adding wholeand organic foods to their shelves. In fact, 23 percent of natural foods shoppers now buy theirorganic produce at large supermarket chains. You can support the improvements the stores aremaking by buying organic and local food whenever possible.

Green supermarkets and health food stores

The new green supermarkets - such as Whole Foods and Fresh Fields - and health food stores aredoing a booming business. Many sell organic produce as well as organic packaged food.Encourage the managers to buy locally produced food. Locally, shop at OB People's NaturalFoods, Jimbos.....Naturally, Greentree Grocers or Casady's.

Food buying cooperatives

These are generally informal groups organized to buy directly from a wholesaler and savesubstantially on groceries. They can range from small groups of friends to large stores that servethousands of families. All purchase food together from wholesalers and divide their order amongthemselves.

Farmers' markets

Farmer's markets are in demand and returning to towns everywhere, providing urban and suburbanconsumers a rare chance to be in direct contact with the farmers who grow their food. They are agreat way to support regional growers, many of whom farm organically, since they eliminate theneed for distributors-and distributors' profits. To locate a farmer's market in your area, call yourstate Department of Agriculture.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)

In CSAs, consumers buy shares in a farm's harvest and usually (but not necessarily) participate inthe farming process by helping out either during harvest season or with other aspects of the farmoperation. CSAs benefit the farmer, who is guaranteed a market for his or her harvest, and giveshareholders access to fresh produce every week during harvest period. Locally.

The Cost?

Organic produce can be more expensive, but believe it or not, on average, organic packaged foodis not more expensive than conventional packaged food. An analysis by Mothers & Others foundthat when averaged out over a week's worth of meals, packaged organic food can be asaffordable, and often less expensive, than conventional name brand products.


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