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Are Your Conscious Dietary Choices Contributing To Planetary Destruction? | Community Spirit

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Are Your Conscious Dietary Choices Contributing To Planetary Destruction?




The idea of your personal diet having a significant environmental impact has gained a more widespread airing, as this is on the whole a wonderfully positive trend.  It certainly will affect our chances of surviving intact well into the future, and it has numerous fringe benefits as well. 

But most importantly, the budding food-ecology idea is helping us become more receptive to discoveringquality in our own lives, in our food, and in our planetary surroundings.

However, in my opinion, many folks have missed some critical points in the whole issue of choosing food from the bigger picture. 

The idea of "environmentally sound food choices" really has two aspects: your impact on the environment, and your environment's impact on you.  The first is what's talked about these days.  The second is where a great deal of my passion lies. 

The ecology movement, while it is championing some important issues, tends to suffer from the same susceptibility to dogma and one-sidedness as does the natural foods community.  For example, many of us have become aware that the production of fast-food burgers destroys acres of tropical rain forest; that you could float a Naval destroyer in the amount of water it takes to raise one corn-fed steer; that it takes twenty-times the acreage of land to feed someone on that corn-fed factory-farmed beef as it does on grain; and so forth.  Consequently, the idea of eating ecologically is often equated with vegetarianism and veganism, and eating meat is often dismissed categorically as "bad for the environment."

These points of view are dangerous oversimplifications, because they do not take into account the all-important distinction of quality.

It's quite true: support your local fast-food burger joint, and you support the genocide of tropical critters, plants, trees, Amazonian natives, and a fair-sized chunk of the planets atmospheric balance.

However, you can eat meat and be a paragon of planetary stewardship at the same time.  Not despite the fact that you eat meat - but because of it.  If you take the trouble to find a source of meat that raises its animals in a conscious, highly ecological manner, pasture-raised or grass-fed on land not suitable for raising crops - as has been the norm in traditional farming communities for thousands and thousands and thousands of years - then your food choice will actually contribute to the conscious partnership with Gaia rather than the blind plundering of fast-food burger chainsaws.  Besides, the farming of soybeans (considered natural health foods by many) is one of the biggest contributors to rainforest destruction in the twenty-first century. 

It's not so much what specific species of foods you choose that helps or harms the ecology; it is thequality of those foods. 

Now even if you eat the very highest, most consciously produced quality of beef, it still is true that it would be ecologically ruinous for everyone on the planet to eat the amount of beef that average Americans eat.  And that's just the point.  If you choose to include the highest quality naturally raised beef in your diet - and you learn to know the qualities of your foods overall - your not going to mindlessly consume huge amounts of meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Just as there are quality foods, there are quality eating patterns; one leads naturally to another.  Know your food supply and do not shy away from that awesome and empowering responsibility.  Luckily though, we have great restaurants here in DC that can help us our when we want to hit the town for dinner.  A few of my favorites are right here in my neighborhood of Cleveland Park, Ripple (http://rippledc.com/) and Dino (http://dino-dc.com/), both featuring some of the finest local and sustainable ingredients in DC.