Healthy Diet, Healthy Planet?

Of course, the main reason most of us want to follow a healthy diet is to live longer and enhance our OWN lives. But today, I want to take just a slight detour from that, and answer the question of whether or not "healthy diet, healthy planet" is true (the way you'd probably expect it is)!

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First off, let's take an example where healthy food has gotten a bad rap as being bad for the environment:

There are lots of almonds grown in California, and as you probably know, California has problems with droughts. People started using the amount of water it takes to grow almonds as a scapegoat for why California was having these problems in the first place! Of course, that's not true, and while there are multiple reasons for the drought, one of the biggest is just nature. There's a warm water front that comes in from the Pacific Ocean and makes California even hotter than usual. (But, did you know that late last year, the drought was officially declared "over"??)

Anyway, it's important to know about what causes these criticisms of healthy foods and trying to make them look bad!!

Well, first of all, it's not a hundred percent wrong to say that almonds require a lot of water and did contribute to the drought. In fact, up to 10% of all of California's water went to almond trees!

The reason California has so many almond trees in the first place? Because they produce almost all of the whole world's supply of almonds! I totally didn't know that!!

And yet, many almond farmers say that their almond trees don't seem to require any more water than their other crops.

So who's right? And what does that say about the place of healthy foods in an environmentally conscious world?

Well, according to a study I looked at, it seems that nuts are the least of our worries when it comes to our environmental impact on the planet. Sure, nuts have five times the negative environmental impact that vegetables do, pound-for-pound, but processed red meat is 8 times worse than that!

However, that's not to say that "healthy diet, healthy planet" is necessarily true. Sugary drinks actually aren't much worse for the environment to produce than vegetables are, while healthy FISH is unfortunately pretty bad for the planet. A lot of people, in their desire to pursue "healthy diet, healthy planet" will eliminate meat except for fish…believing that it's more sustainably produced…but that's just not true. That's because, aquafarms and commercial fisheries are working really hard to keep up with world demand for fish, and that means fish are disappearing at a rapid rate. In fact, although this sounds pretty hard to believe to me, some experts predict that all the fish could be gone from our oceans by the year 2048!!

So am I saying that I think you should stop eating all meat and even stop eating almonds? (Basically stop eating everything except vegetables and sugary drinks, because those are apparently the best for the environment?)

Of course not! I believe that you should eat organic and eat LOCAL whenever you can to reduce your environmental footprint. But overall, you should eat what's good for YOU, and hopefully you'll be eating a lot of environmentally-friendly veggies! 🥕🥦🌽🍆🌶️

Links:

NPR

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