“The earth is what we all have in common.”
Today is Earth Day, a day to appreciate Earth and the environment. People celebrate Earth Day in many ways: Some clean up their local park, others work on educational efforts or even donate to their favorite environmental charity. What can you do to honor Mother Earth?
Danielle Nierenberg suggests the following 13 Things Everyone Can Do in 2013:
1. Eat more colors
The colors of fruits and vegetables are signs of nutritional content. A richly-colored red tomato has high levels of carotenoids such as lycopene, which the American Cancer Society reports can help prevent cancer, as well as heart disease.
2. Buy food with less packaging
Discarded packaging makes up around one-third of non-industrial solid waste in industrialized countries, with negative impacts on the climate, and air and water quality. Choosing foods with less packaging can also be better for our waistlines, since highly processed foods that are low in nutrients generally use more packaging than more healthful, less processed options.
3. Choose seasonal produce
Earth Day offers a great opportunity to bring more seasonal fruits and vegetables into diets. Many farmers markets sell products that are in season. Locally sourced, seasonal products can also be found at major grocery stores.
4. Get in touch with agriculture
This time of year, many people are starting to plan vacations. A great way to skip the crowds, save money, and get both children and adults in touch with agriculture is to book a farm-stay.
5. Get creative in the kitchen
Shopping at farmers markets, which often have a wide selection of less-ordinary produce such as celeriac, sunchokes, or kohlrabi, can prevent “food ruts” by helping consumers try new foods.
6. Invest in perennial crops
Perennial plants — plants that grow back every year — tend to hold water in soil more effectively than annuals and help prevent erosion. Their extensive roots also allow them to better access nutrients and water, reducing the need for artificial fertilizer.
7. Reclaim abandoned spaces
As populations continue to expand, especially in cities, reclaiming unused land and buildings for food production can help meet growing demand.
8. Build local and global food communities
A great way to get involved in food and agriculture issues is with Slow Food International, an organization with more than 1,300 groups around the world called convivia. These groups support healthy, sustainable diets and traditional food cultures.
Many Do-It-Yourself (DIY) food projects are easy and fun. Turning old t-shirts into produce bags to save plastic, starting seeds in eggshells, which can then be crushed for transplanting into the soil, and DIY foods such as homemade oat or almond milk can all add a creative twist to healthy eating and sustainable agriculture. Plus, they are lots of fun for families.
10. Cook in batches and freeze for later
Planning meals in advance can help reduce stress around cooking. It also helps reduce food waste, which is a big problem in industrialized countries A great way to reduce waste and make planning easy is to cook large batches of a single meal, such as soups or curries, which can be frozen and reused on short notice later in the week.
11. Brighten your outlook
At the recent Warwick Economics Summit in February, Warwick University Economics Professor Dr. Andrew Oswald presented his research on health and happiness, focusing on the link between happiness and consumption of fruits and vegetables. His team of researchers found that eating more fruits and vegetables directly improves a person’s mental well-being, separate from other variables such as income level and how much meat a person ate. This research is supported by a similar study from the Harvard School of Public Health, which found a link between patients’ blood-level of carotenoids, compounds commonly found in colorful fruits and vegetables, and their feelings of optimism.
12. Use crop rotation
Crop rotation is an important way to preserve soil nutrients, prevent erosion, and protect against crop diseases and pests.
13. Embrace conviviality around the table
Talking and laughing while sharing food is a uniquely human experience. Conviviality, joyful and friendly interaction, is found at markets and around the dinner table, and it supports healthy relationships and healthy bodies.
Let’s every day be the Earth Day 🙂