As I prepare to take my family on the no grocery store challenge journey, much to their chagrin, so many thoughts fill my head. After participating in the Food Revolution Summit this week and recording my story to be aired during the Summit I have put a lot of thought into this challenge. We need to make connections between our food and the farmers who grow it, and between our food and the land, watersheds, and climate that sustain us. And do it in a eco-friendly way that is good for our health. This is something our family has already been doing but we need to go deeper in our journey to reconnect.
We grow as much of our own food as we can. We shop from local farmers all the time. Breaking the ties with the big grocery stores is the last thing we need to do. I am still trying to figure out how we will get paper products and such without going to the store. Most of the household items we can get online from organic sellers. This is definitely going to be a challenge but one I think is worth undertaking.
When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to think of cars and smokestacks, not what we are eating. The truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet. Agriculture is one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, more than all our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined. Largely from the methane gas released from cattle and rice farms, nitrous oxide from fertilizers, and carbon dioxide from the cutting of the rain forests to grow food and livestock. Farming is the thirstiest user of our precious water supply and a major polluter of our lakes, rivers, and coastal ecosystems around the globe from fertilizer and manure runoff. Agriculture also accelerates the loss of biodiversity. We have lost crucial habitats due to clearing grasslands and forests for farms to the point of wildlife extinction.
They expect by mid century we will have more than nine billion mouths to feed. Due to the spread of prosperity, especially in China and India, it is raising the demand for meat, eggs, dairy, and increasing the demand for more soybeans and corn to feed more cattle, pigs, and chickens. At this rate we will need to double our crops by the year 2050.
This is where our no grocery store challenge comes in. It is a way to help our environment and our health. It is suggested there are five ways in which we can do this. One is to freeze agriculture footprint by stopping the growth of farm land. At present time we have cleared the size of South America to grow crops and even more, the size of Africa, to raise livestock. We can no longer increase food production by agriculture expansion as we have already lost whole ecosystems around the globe. This is not helping our system nor is it providing us with more food.
We need to grow more on the farms we have by using high tech precision farming techniques and organic farming combined. We need to use our resources more efficiently. Organic farming greatly reduces use of water and chemicals. Organic crop can give us more “crop per drop” from our water and nutrients. We need to shift our diets. It would be easier to feed nine billion people if more of our food was going into our stomachs and not into livestock, or bio-fuels and industrial products. Only 55% of our crops today feed us directly. We need to shift to less meat diets, switch to pasture raised meats the way it was intended and reign in the use of food crops for bio-fuels. Lastly we need to reduce waste! It’s estimated 50% of total food weight is lost or wasted before it can be consumed. This waste happens in homes, restaurants, and supermarkets. We can save food by eating smaller portions, eating leftovers, and encouraging everyone to develop waste reducing measures. Tackling waste is the most effective way to save our food.
So we will be embarking on our own challenge to take part in the Food Revolution to save money, food, our health, and ecosystem by buying all our food and supplies locally. I know it will be challenging to live in a manner in which seems foreign to most of the world but I know we can do it. With proper planning and a passion to make better choices and be connected to the food we put into our bodies it will be possible and rewarding.
Be watching for follow up blogs about our challenges taking on this challenge!