You are what you eat, and if you care about the environment, you might want to think about what you put in your mouth as part of your environmental stewardship. Every bite you take comes from the earth, one way or another. Someone grew, watered, and baked the grain that goes into your daily bread. Someone harvested, processed, and transported your glass of wine.
Yet it’s easy to forget that what we eat ultimately comes from the good earth. Especially if our food is packaged in plastic, sold thousands of miles from its source, and consumed on-the-go, many of don’t give a single thought as to how it was produced or grown, how, and what impact it had on the land. For all we know, we could give aid and comfort to child labor violators, waste gallons of water, or enable the use of toxic pesticides just by simply throwing a pre-packaged snack in the grocery cart.
What happens to our food after we’ve finished with it is yet another area where environmental stewardship sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. As landfills pile up, we might forget that a simple compost heap in the backyard could easily help sustain the earth. Saying no to plastic bags could help save the oceans. And then there’s the question of what happens to the food at the grocery store we don’t buy. In a world where malnourishment and starvation still exist, isn’t there some way we could feed the hungry and be kinder to the earth at the same time?
Eating is an act of caring for your own body and those of your family and loved ones. Eating is also an act of caring and appreciating the abundant gifts of God’s creation.
Two important new books have just come out, both addressing questions of how we eat and how eating affects the environment. Be sure to check them out!
The Way We Eat Now by Bee Wilson. Anyone who is concerned about wellness, weight gain, or the environment needs to read this book. Bee Wilson has done a marvelous and comprehensive study of the vast changes in how we eat during the last thirty or so years. She covers it all – grocery stores, vegetable vs. meat consumption, advertising and marketing of food, the new boxed meal kits, and why all these changes took place in the years after WWII. An excellent book, strongly and highly recommended. The author is a terrific storyteller, so this book is both informative and a great read. I truly enjoyed it, and it will change how I eat from now on.
The Fate of Food by Amanda Little. An excellent book in the vein of Michael Pollen’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Amanda Little explores the nexus of ecology and technology in this thoughtfully written, well-researched book. She interviews and visits numerous food producers who use technology to sustainably improve the world’s food supply. She admits to enjoying a cheap burger and coke on occasion, and she fesses up to failing in her attempts to grow food in her backyard garden in Nashville. Unlike many proponents of the sustainable food movement, the author is someone the average reader might relate to. Highly recommended for those who care about sustainability, this book is like an “Omnivore’s Dilemma 2.0,” updating much of the subject matter covered by Michael Pollen’s work and giving 21st century tech a fair shake.
Cynthia Coe is the author of creation care resources for adults, youth, and children. Her books Earth Our Garden Home, Wild Faith, and Considering Birds & Lilies are all available in print and e-book editions and included in Kindle Unlimited.