By Fredrica Syren:
My husband commented on how good my cooking has been lately, and I told him it’s because I have access to so much produce from the farmers’ market. I have noticed that cooking from basic ingredients such as whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit has become a lost art. More and more people are relying on takeout or processed food for lunch and dinner. From what I gather, lots of people think it takes too much work and time to cook from scratch.
This could not be further from the truth: this way of thinking is causing damage to both people and the planet.
It used to be that all meals were home cooked, provided reasonable portion sizes, and always included vegetables. Today in our busy society, people take shortcuts to eating. Fewer and fewer meals are home cooked, and snacking between meals is more common. Before, we ate about 2-3 snacks, but nowadays some kids eat up to 6 snacks. Portion sizes have exploded and are two to five times larger than in past, adding an extra 200 calories daily. Sugary drinks have become something people drink every day instead of on special occasions.
The sad fact is that we eat 31 percent more calories but move less. And lots of those calories are fats, oil and sugar. This of course is causing a worldwide obesity epidemic. Today, one in 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese. Obesity adds the risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Children who are obese face health issues once considered adult diseases.
What we eat also has a climate impact. If we can see the relationship between how food is being produced and its impact on climate change, maybe we can make better choices. First of all, fast food and processed food require lots of valuable resources to be produced and are usually packed in plastic, which pollutes our planet. This kind of food usually travels great distances to your plate, and that adds even more negative impact on the planet. Vegetables, fruit and grains do not take much energy to grow; and if you eat local and organic as much as possible, you eliminate so many factors that cause greenhouse gasses. Non-organic food uses pesticides and fertilizers that are heavy toxins that are very bad for the environment.
I have already written about how meat production is a major contributor to climate change. According the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock production is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gasses. I’m not saying everyone should become a vegan; however, I do think we all can eat less meat and introduce a meat-free day each week.
As I said, too many people think they don’t have the time or the skills to cook for themselves, but there are plenty of meals that are cheaper than takeout can be pulled together in less than 30 minutes. And if adults start preparing their own food from fresh ingredients, they will encourage healthier eating habits for children, too. Cooking with fresh vegetables and meats can be done in a very short time and the meals taste much better than takeout. And let’s skip the sodas and enjoy water again. Let’s see how different we’ll feel and how much money we can save.
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