Whenever I read about Veganism or other food trends like eating Raw, I wonder what the point is. As long as the food we eat comes from local and organic farms doesn’t it mean it is sustainable enough to ensure a healthy (food) future for mankind? Apparently I have to rethink, as always, my believes (stop believing in random stuff). There are a lot of advantages to this “extreme” sounding food trends and in many cases they are the new sustainable.
I have just finished the book “The Moneyless Man“. Mark Boyle spend seven years to prepare for his moneyless adventure, living a year in a caravan on a farm and mastering the arts of foraging and food skipping as well as creating a Freeconomy community. At the end of the book the question: “Have we erased common sense and turned into money-worshipping shadows of ourselves?” arises. Maybe it’s true and we have to rethink society, economy and communities. Maybe we should take a walk down high street and ask ourselves which long-term benefits does investing into all its offers holds for us. If you remove the customers with their easy-to-spend money, would there be more left than just wasteland?
This is not a post about money or a review on Mark Boyles first book. It’s a mind experiment on food. Food is produced by nature and nature is shaped by us, humans. At the end of the road the food we eat is nothing more than a consumer itself. It needs sun, water and nutrients to grow. Protection from hungry insects, frost, wind and rain. If food should be sustainable, do we have to reduce the limits of traditional food production? Definitely yes. And we are good at doing this already. Pesticides, drip irrigation and energy-hungry greenhouses create perfectly predictable harvests. They are unnatural but they feed the planet and produce enough to waste nearly one third of it.
As a consumer I feel a responsibility to do my best and change this unnatural circle of industrialised food. What are the alternatives and how low can my foods footprint go?
I have talked to Franziska Schmid about veganism in fashion before and veganism in food has basically the same benefits:
- You don’t need to kill or harm animals
- No milk or cheese means no cows which lowers the amount of methane put into the atmosphere (less global warming)
- no need for animals in food production means we don’t need animal feed or extra drinking water
- animal feed is in many cases made out of soy which comes from farm land gained from deforestation
- vegan diets are said to have many health benefits like a lower risk of cancer, arthritis and other illnesses
The idea of Raw used to cause goosebumps in my stomach, or rather that’s what I believe happens. Not cooking my food appears so bizarre to me that I never gave it a second thought. But not cooking means also that we can save a lot of energy:
- no need for natural gas in cooking
- cooking amounts to about 2.8% of your electricity bill (no big savings here, this is for the U.S.A.)
- it has many health benefits especially for people who are overweight or don’t get enough vitamins with their normal diets
- a raw food diet is in most cases made up of organic food which has a lot of benefits for the planet
Following this list you will find a simple pro and con list for Raw diets.
There are a lot more diet alternatives out there and I haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg with this article. The point I wanted to make is that we have to rethink food in a comprehensive way. Can we feed ourselves without destroying the planet? What are the best alternatives and how do we choose one? Is the status quo of how we eat obsolete? Is the way we think sustainability works really sustainable?
How far are you willing to go to save the planet?
I came across a book about the emerging “extreme” food culture by Dana Goodyear which looks like an interesting read called “Anything that moves”.