What you put in your body effects your health long before you take your first bite.
Factory farms, where large numbers of cattle, poultry, swine or other animals are confined, produce huge concentrations of animal waste that can harm local water sources, the EPA says. These farms use vast amounts of fossil fuel-based energy to cool, heat and ventilate the facilities as well as energy to operate farm machinery, resulting in least 90 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year worldwide, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
In fact, 83 percent of emissions related to food production happen before its even left the farm, according to WorldWatch.org.
Importing food from overseas or transporting it on delivery trucks generates emissions as well. Delivery trucks use four to 17 times more fuel than local or regional deliveries, according to WorldWatch.org.
Once these products have reached your home, the damage isn't done. Factory farmed meats can contain excessive and unhealthy hormones and fruit is often covered in pesticides.
How do find the right foods for your body and the planet? Follow these guidelines to help you make better, more eco-friendly choices.
Make a Seasonal Breakfast
Eating food in season supports local growers and lowers your carbon footprint. If you're munching on apricots or blueberries in a northern region in October, you can be sure they traveled far to get to your grocery store because these fruits are out of season in October.
Trucks and ships, which rely on fossil fuels and generate emissions—are used to deliver exotic, out-of-season fruits to northern populations. Transportation-related emissions account for nearly 14 percent of all greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere.
The eco-friendly food choice: In the fall, fill your bag with apples, blackberries or grapes, all of which are in season in the Northern U.S. this time of year. Better yet, head to your local apple orchard or berry farm and pick the food yourself. Use this seasonal food guide, from EatWellGuide.org, to see what local food you can snack on all year long.