Eating for Earth Day |

Eating for Earth Day

Stephanie Mandel
Special to The Union

Photo for The Union by John Hart

Earth Day is less than a week away, but there's still plenty of time to plan something special to mark the occasion.

Celebrated April 22, events of all kinds are hosted all over the world to demonstrate support for protecting our environment.

There endless ways, big and small, we can join in the Earth Day spirit. In fact, we can even celebrate in a very meaningful way as part of our normal day: at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How do you eat for Earth Day? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Eat organic

Organic farming never uses toxic and persistent pesticides or petroleum-based fertilizers, which helps keep the air, water, and soil clean.

Eat local

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Locally grown food (certified organic or not) usually has a lower carbon footprint than its well-traveled counterparts. Before the local produce season kicks into high gear, look for other local or regional foods such as beef, grains, olive oil, honey, wine, and dairy products from northern California's Marin and Sonoma counties.

For more information, see the Nevada County Grown Farm Guide online ( or pick up a free copy at various locations around town.

Eat bulk

Buying foods in bulk often means less packaging than the pre-packaged versions of the same foods. This means less waste going to the landfill. It means fewer trees cut down for cardboard boxes.

It means less dioxin produced when wood pulp is bleached with chlorine, and a process that releases less waste into the environment.

It also means less plastic manufactured and used, leading to yet another reduction in dioxin, which is produced during the manufacture of all plastics.

You can reduce packaging still more when buying in bulk by bringing in your own containers to fill: bags, jars, and bottles for liquids.

Eat Sustainable Seafood

To contribute to the health and recovery of the Earth's ocean ecosystems, we can choose seafood that is harvested through environmentally responsible practices.

To help us make these choices, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® recommends which seafood to buy or avoid.

Their latest recommendations were released April 7, and are available online, as printed pocket guides for your purse or wallet (available at BriarPatch Co-op), and on your mobile device.

A nonprofit organization called FishWise ( offers a Low Mercury Card to identify seafood that has tested as being low in contaminants, and recipes for sustainable seafood dishes.

In partnership with FishWise,® BriarPatch labels all seafood as either green for "Best Choice" or yellow for "Good Alternative."

Fish rated by these groups as "Unsustainable" is not sold.

Eat a Meatless Meal

Having just one meatless meal per week can make a big impact on the Earth. The website lists these environmental benefits:

Reduce your carbon footprint. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide — far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.

Minimize water usage. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. It takes an estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound. Help reduce fossil fuel dependence. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut the depletion of fossil fuels.

Stephanie Mandel is the marketing manager at BriarPatch Co-op. Learn more at

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