So first of all, what is green living? You’ve seen it everywhere, but what is it exactly? Basically, it’s the formation of a sustainable lifestyle in which an individual makes and effort to reduce his or her use of the Earth’s natural resources. This includes power, housing, transportation, water, waste, and especially… food.
Food production in the agricultural industry is one of the most energy intensive practices in the entire world, putting a strain on many resources. To put it in perspective, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that worldwide livestock farming generates 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions alone – in comparison, the entire world’s cars, planes, trains, and boats combine to make up 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. Obviously, there’s a problem here.
While many place blame on the U.S. government for the problems and issues surrounding the agriculture industry (factory farming, animal cruelty, pollution, health risks to employees and consumers), it is the consumers who dictate the demand for certain products. In terms of agriculture, the buyer demand for meat is extremely high – the average American eats about 180 lbs. of meat each year. Ultimately, consumers play a large role by choosing whether or not to be educated and informed about the products they choose to purchase.
As a Massachusetts resident, an amazing resource for all things local can be found here. The first step in increasing our own “green” actions is to buy locally – so you can eat green without eating things that are only green! Not only does this use up less energy, but it helps to support local farms and businesses that struggle to compete against large, corporate factory farms. While it is indeed a great start, relying solely on individuals to voluntarily change their behavior is not nearly as effective as political change. There must be a focus on the need to expedite the transition to an economy that is less carbon-intensive.
If you’re not planning on reducing your meat consumption or becoming a vegetarian, then the least you can do is know where your food is coming from and how. Find out here (Farm Sanctuary Website) and here (IDA USA). At the former link, Farm Sanctuary invites you to view some of the images uncovered at various factory farms across the country. Yes, they may be disturbing, but they are in fact, a reality.
A few suggested reads on the issue? I kindly direct you to the following books: Meat Market, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Dominon. I also highly recommend reading Animals, a brilliant novel written by Don LePan in which he tackles one of the largest moral issues of our time.