Are healthy foods more environmentally friendly?

Healthier and more nutritious foods tend to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly than those with low nutritional value, according to an analysis of more than 57,000 food products sold in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The paleo diet attempts to recreate a “caveman” diet by emphasizing fruits, vegetables, wild-caught seafood and meat from grass-fed animals instead of foods containing grains, dairy and sugar. The world spends about 1 million dollars per minute to subsidize existing food systems, distorting markets, impeding change and harming human and environmental health. But at the same time, it can ensure that these same lands are healthy and capable of continuing to produce food and sustain livestock for many more centuries.

Thinking about a successful food future must focus on the Earth system as a whole, and not on local levels. Pros Whole30 supporters eliminate highly processed foods from their diet, which “leads to choosing foods that generate less waste in packaging, which is beneficial, and eliminating dairy products has a positive environmental impact,” Brownlee says. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that nearly 90 percent of marine fish stocks are overfished or depleted. Many packaged foods are also processed, such as sugary snacks, and can provide little dietary nutrition as a result.

A sustainable flexitarian diet could still include these products, just in smaller quantities, while still focusing on whole plant foods. In addition to changing the environment through land clearing and other agricultural practices, food production has a major impact on greenhouse gases. A sustainable diet considers the impact it will have on the environment, the individual and the food chain as a whole. Fortunately, their analysis revealed that this transition could be achieved through a combination of substantial dietary changes toward primarily plant-based dietary patterns, drastic reductions in food losses and waste, and major improvements in food production practices.

One of the best ways a person can reduce their impact on the environment is by reducing the amount of packaging, processes and shipments they need for their food. A sustainable diet is one that, in general, is healthy and has a low impact on the environment and food supply. This most recent study points out that agricultural food production emits approximately 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, consumes approximately 40 percent of terrestrial land, causes nutrient pollution that affects ecosystems and water quality, and uses approximately 70 percent of the Earth's fresh water from rivers, reservoirs and groundwater.

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