I learned to cook for myself during university, the same time I started to learn about the impact our food choices have on the environment. I chose to study environmental science because I care deeply about nature and all living beings on this planet. It was in university that I realized how intertwined human health and the health of the planet are. Choosing to live in clean air with clean water, and selecting organic, clean, whole foods for our diets can only bode well for our bodies and the earth. We have to make those choices for ourselves and for the environment. Cocooned in the beautiful environment of Whistler and surrounded by delicious and healthy foods and health-conscious people at Olives Community Market, it’s sometimes too easy to fool myself into believing that – everyone knows this already, right? But, after returning from a visit to Toronto, I can see that the relationship between healthy people and a healthy planet is not common knowledge.
I know that healthy people will go hand in hand with a healthy planet. When we stop accepting a SAD (Standard American Diet) diet, sold to us by big businesses, we will slow the progression of factory farming. Factory farming is one of the most environmentally destructive practices we partake in, destroying millions of acres of natural environment in order to plant one crop. Growing just one crop (typically genetically modified corn, soy, cotton and canola) over thousands of acres takes huge amounts of fossil fuels, pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Support your local farmers instead, or better yet, grow your own food. Stop accepting food that has been sprayed with poisons - these are meant to kill things in nature and have corresponding health effects on your body.
We need to stop accepting the daily holocaust we wage against fellow animals on this planet. How can we believe that meat coming from tortured, diseased and drugged-up animals can be good for us? Besides the outright cruelty of this practice, factory meat requires massive amounts of fossil fuels and water, and generates unacceptable amounts of pollution.
We need to stop accepting the aging process by the age of sixty. Sixty is middle-aged! We deserve to live healthy, clear, focused and productive lives well into our nineties and beyond – as my great grandparents and great-great grandparents did and still do. Yet now I know so many amazing people between my age and my parents’ ages that have been diagnosed or killed by cancer.
There are a lot of dots here, and not a lot of ‘proof’. After all, the number one cause of cancer is ‘random’ right? Well maybe all those un-connected dots are not so random. Maybe the constant assault on our minds of living in a stressful, work-obsessed culture has something to do with it. Maybe the constant assault on our bodies of living on a polluted and stressed-out planet has something to do with it. Maybe it’s the poison on, and in our foods or the constant, demoralizing barrage of advertisements invading our minds and telling us how to look and live. If you’re waiting for any one thing to blame – Why is the planet dying? Why are people living less healthy lives? – I think you are going to have a long wait. Life is too subjective to fit into science’s objective classifications of yes and no. Make your own connections, listen to your intuitive mind, your heart, and find out what feels right for you. And you may just find that it is what is right for the planet as well.
People ask me if I will ever get a job in my ‘field’ as an environmental scientist, and I have to tell them – I already have a job in my field. In our current consumer based system, purchasing power is the only real say we have. Change our food system by choosing what you buy carefully. In doing so, you will be making better choices for yourself and for the planet. And it’s working - we’re winning. More and more big companies are quietly removing GMOs from their product ingredients, while organic food sales are one of the fastest growing markets.
It’s increasingly obvious that we need to change the way we live if we want to sustain ourselves on this planet. At the rate we are destroying our natural resources, we will not be able to sustain ourselves on this planet and we are taking hundreds of other species down with us as well. My motto for food selection? If it’s good for the planet, it’s good for me too.