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conscious eating


Changing Our Diet


to Cool the Climate Good Food Choices Enable Global Health


by Judith Fertig T


hree years ago, the New York Times added a new word to the world’s food vocabulary:


Climatarian (n.) A diet whose primary


goal is to reverse climate change. T is includes eating locally produced food (to reduce energy spent in transportation), choosing pork and poultry instead of beef and lamb (to limit gas emissions), and using every part of ingredients (apple cores, cheese rinds, etc.) to limit food waste. Changing our food choices to


support this model can have a ripple eff ect. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in a 2017 study published in the journal Climatic Change, looked at how diets impact personal health, the healthcare system and climate. T ey found that adopting a more plant-based diet reduces the relative risk of coronary heart disease, colorectal cancer and Type 2 diabetes by 20 to 40 percent. National


22 Central Florida


annual health care costs could drop from $93 billion to $77 billion. Direct greenhouse gas emissions could annually drop 489 to 1,821 pounds per person. Such an approach involves considering


the related water usage, greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint—the energy required to cultivate, harvest and transport food—plus processing associated food waste. Here are some top choices.


Foods that Go Easy on Water Hydroponic greens are hands-down winners. T e Shelton Family Farm, near Whittier, North Carolina, weekly produces 10,000 to 12,000 heads of hydroponically grown Bibb lettuce. T e controlled environment and carefully engineered nutrient delivery systems maximize all resources. “It’s an enclosed system that runs


24/7, and it’s highly effi cient from a water-


usage standpoint because we recycle the water,” says William Shelton Jr., a fourth- generation family farmer. “T e only water that’s actually consumed is what’s taken up and transpired through the plants.” In a moderate climate, energy costs to recycle the water and keep the plants at an even temperature are moderate, as well. Dry-tilled heirloom tomatoes, okra,


melons and quinoa are drought-tolerant and only use available rainfall.


Foods that Go Easy on


Greenhouse Gases Plants beat meat. “Livestock farming produces from 20 to 50 percent of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions,” says nutritionist and climate activist Jane Richards, of GreenEatz, in Mountain View, California. “You can reduce your footprint by a quarter by cutting down on red meats such as beef and lamb.” An exception is the vegetarian


staple of rice. According to researchers at Project Drawdown, a climate solutions organization in Sausalito, California, rice cultivation is responsible for at least 10 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and up to 19 percent of global methane emissions. New farming techniques, like mid-season draining of the rice paddies, could cut methane emissions by at least 35 percent.


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