Guest post by Brian Toomey
"Once more into the breech," the good bard had it, and so it is that once again I face another New Years admitting I need to loose a few.
Ahh, New Years resolutions. I would hazard a guess that some readers are chewing the cud (or holiday leftovers) on this issue as well.
An unfathomable score of plans exist to help you loose weight, from Joel Fuhrmans Nutrarian diet to "Paleo" and Eco-Atkins options. My goal here is not to adjudicate their relative nutritional merits. Instead, lets talk carbon and climate. Even if you could shed a few on only Brazilian rainforest steaks, I suspect you, dear reader, would have qualms. Estimates are that agriculture contributes about 25 percent of global CO2 are from human agriculture, and much of the fuel used for transportation was used power globalized food production. The choices here matter.
So, here are the tips I try to live by to keep the carbon in my diet low, including a few you might not have thought of:
- Eat local, seasonal foods: We know the drill here. Don't ship apples from New Zealand when they are in season 5 miles away.
- Eat ecologically farmed food and consider wildcrafting: Support farmers that plant in polyculture, and build soil, because better soil and increased biodiversity translate directly into increased carbon sequestration. Even better, dine occasionally from the unquestioned champion of CO2 sequestration - wild forests and prairies are loaded with edible greens, mushrooms, and tubers, and with the right guide you can get in some relaxing walking and end up with gourmet foods like violet leaves, nettles, watercress and oyster mushrooms. Footprint wise, those gleaned natural treasures are a freebie compared to the footprint in organic industrial agriculture.
- Eat Whole Plants:Michael Polan and T Colin Campbell make what I find to be a compelling case for the nutritional benefits of whole foods but, in addition, refined foods are wasteful. Lets look at two choices: One, eat the corn whole, straight from the cob, or minimally processed (say popcorn). Two: spend considerable energy grinding, mashing, straining, processing and refining it to get at just the syrup, wasting the rest of the nutrients (fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc.).
- Try Intermittent Fasting: Nothing, and I mean nothing, is better for the environment than nothing. Seriously, no matter how eco and local the farm the food you are eating is, it still takes resources and displaces other uses. So I would encourage you to consider intermittent fasting, taking 24 hours once or twice a week to go without food and subsist on clean drinking water. Fitness writer Brad Pilon over at EatStopEat.com has a great collection of tools and writings to support your experimenting with fasting. Consider, if everyone did one day a week without food we would easily hit the standard international carbon reduction goals. Fasting has amazing effects on weight loss, longevity, internal cleansing and hormonal regulation, but for this post I want to note that it is sorely underrated as an eco friendly diet option.
(editor's note: please consult with your doctor before attempting any fasting regimen)
Good luck with your Low Carbon New Years Weight Loss!
About the Author:
Brian Toomey lives at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, and, among other things, works as an eco focused online consultant for Appoutdoors.com, and Kranich Jewelers, a family run jewelry business specializing in Mothers Rings family jewelry who recently made the jump to energy efficient laptops and LED lighting.
Image credit: xtof, courtesy Flickr