The world of nutrition is often so focused on so different aspects of one’s diet such as the “diet label” one follows, when one eats, how much one eats, etc.! However, something that’s often over looked is: HOW ones food was actually grown!
We should care about how our food was grown, because it has an incredible impact on not only our own health, but everything & everyone involved!
The way our food is grown impacts:
- The health of the consumer (that’s you and me!)
- The sustainability of the planet (especially through soil health)
- The health & well being of farmers
- The communities where our food was grown around
- All plants, animals, ecosystems, and people!
In reading this post, it’s important to know that soil is one of our most precious resources on this planet! A single teaspoon of productive soil contains between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria (9). We as humans need these bacteria to survive as do plants & entire ecosystems!
Shocking Stats About Current Day Agriculture:
- The United Nations estimated in 2014 that we only have 60 harvests left with viable top soil to grow food on (2)
- We are loosing top soil in North America at a rate 10 times faster than we can replenish it, and in China and India, we are loosing it at a rate 30-40 times faster than we can replenish it! (1)
- There are multi billions of pounds of pesticides/ herbicides/ and insecticides sprayed annually (3) which get into the air we breath, the water we drink, and the food we eat. These agricultural chemicals have incredibly negative impacts on important pollinators and animal species (10) and they can also be devastating to the health of the farmers’ who must spray them (12)!
- The magnesium content of vegetables and wheat has declined by up to 25 percent in the past 50 years (6)
- Trace minerals in vegetable crops, including manganese, zinc, copper, and nickel, have decreased over the last several decades, while toxic minerals like aluminum, lead, and cadmium have increased. (7)
- The work of peasants and pastoralists maintaining soil fertility is 18 times more valuable than the synthetic fertilizers provided by the seven largest corporations (5)
- Farmers have some of the highest death by suicide rates in the world compared to other occupations (8)
- Food is political. Our food system is built upon inequality, injustice, and racism (13). In order to change this, we must understand that our food choices impact everyone
As you can see from these stats, we desperately need a revolution within our food system! If we don’t pay attention to how our food was grown – our health will undoubtedly suffer because of it, as will the entire planets’!
The good news is – as consumers there is so much we can do to care about how our food was grown in order to support soil health, farmers health, and our own health!
Best Practices for Caring About How Your Food Was Grown:
- Grow some of your own if possible! Be sure to stay tuned for my food growing course (launching in Feb 2021!)
- Shop at organic farmers markets (look for regeneratively grown organic food)
- Look to supporting SMALL SCALE local companies – especially those owned by BIPOC individuals!
- Purchase organic from the grocery store as much as you possibly can
- Do research into the companies you support – Do they care for the soil? Farmers? Their employees? The Consumer (that’s you!)? Always look out for companies that are organic and practice regenerative agriculture. Ensure the companies you are buying from have direct relationships with their farmers. It’s also great to look out for companies who are B Corp certified and Fair Trade!
- Get involved with organizations who are looking to change the “status quo” of our food system by working towards social, environmental, and racial justice. “Equal Exchange Citizen to Consumer” program – you can check it out here
- Do everything you can to help stand up for food sovereignty and justice for all people – especially if you have the privilege and voice to do so! Whether it be letters to government officials, getting involved in organizations, protesting, signing petitions, voting with your dollar, etc. – every bit helps!
Supporting Food Companies Who Care
Making a conscious effort to support food companies who truly care, is one of the easiest swaps you, as a consumer can make! It involves doing a bit of research on the food companies/ brands you purchase from to learn more about what their farming practices are like, what sort of relationships they have with farmers, and what they are doing to support social and racial justice!
I’ve actually come to love doing this, and from it I’ve come across SO many amazing companies who are incredibly inspiring! As a nutritionist, one of the best parts of my job is getting to pass on to YOU all the knowledge I’ve learned about food companies who are truly making a positive impact in our world 🙂 If you want to know more about this – message me to ask me for my FREE “Ethical Consumer Guide” where I list tons of amazing food brands to focus on supporting!
One of my most favourite companies is Lotus Foods as they’re such a great example of the sort of companies we should all be seeking to support more of! They happen to sell the MOST delicious rice noodles (made with all sorts of cool ancient grains like millet, black forbidden rice, buckwheat etc.), and on top of being super tasty, they are incredibly transparent about the way they farm and the relationship they have with farmers and communities they purchase their food from!
WHY Lotus Foods Is a Great Example of a Company Consumers Should Look to Support:
- They’re on a mission to change the way rice was grown around the world. Annually rice consumes one-quarter to one-third of the planet’s renewable fresh water, not to mention it requires back breaking work in unhygienic standing water (mostly by woman in countries such as Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Madagascar and Thailand (11)
- Lotus Foods is an organic company who practices “regenerative agriculture.” They are also a certified B corp, and a fair trade company who forms direct relationships with farmers across the globe
- Lotus Foods imparts a system of farming called “More Crop Per Drop” so farmers can double and even triple their yields using up to 50% less water on average and 80-90% less seed
- “More Crop Per Drop” (MCPD) helps to ensure better working conditions for farmers as the time they spend bent over transplanting and weeding is cut in half by these practices. Due to the fact farmers (mainly of which are women) no longer have to work constantly in standing water, their exposure to parasites, leeches and other disease is dramatically reduced!
- MCPD growing conditions promote soil health resulting in more extensive root systems of the plants – this helps to regenerate healthy soils (as opposed to degrading it!)
These very important considerations are not often things consumers would think about when purchasing products from the grocery store – however, as consumers it’s important we start shifting to do as much as we can to support companies who have these sort of standards and avoid supporting large corporations who do not!
As you can see, consumers have a very important role in our food system. If you have the means to vote with your dollar in the food you buy, it is incredibly important to do so in a way that considers: the health of the planet, the health of farmers, the soil your food is growing in, the well being of communities’ it’s effecting, and of course, your health as well!
Start by doing research on companies you most often support! Find out about their growing practices, how they work with farmers, how they work towards social and racial justice, and what their mission as a company is (is it simply profit, or are they looking to do good for our planet?). If you ever have any questions on this topic – don’t hesitate to reach out! I love hearing from you!
Lastly, I wanted to say a huge thank you to Lotus Foods for sponsoring this blog post and collaborating with me to help spread the message about the importance of paying attention to how our food is grown!