Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Feeling Small And Helpless? Read This.

I am finding it hard to generally function on a daily basis (not because I am staring down this ineffectual R.D. exam), but instead because I feel like the choices I am making are not impacting the world, or more specifically, the environment. I'm in no way a dirty hippie, but I grew up on a nonworking farm where we did not waste water or food or electricity, where we grew a majority of what we ate, and we composted and recycled. Now I live in the city where people lap the block in their cars for status in a city with a subway, there is a litter of water and other bottles on each corner, and chicken bones regularly crunch under your feet if you don't look down when you walk down my block. A stark comparison, yes, but it does at least make me feel like I should be doing more to make up for it. This, of course, makes me want give a wake up call to everyone around me, but apparently American society at large does not care so much.

So here's is a topic from an organic nutrition standpoint that the average person might want to check out and ultimately the to help make a dent. You cannot live without it...

Water! Yes, we all know we need water to live, but if any of you heard any statistics this past March 22, aka World Water Day, you might tighten up that two shower a day policy, turn the water off when brushing your teeth, and generally stop watering/washing everything in sight. One of the biggest consumer impacts you could make would be to stop buying so much bottled water. The other day I was picking up some necessities at my local Tarjay and the woman in front of me in line was going on and on about how the case of "baby" water bottles she was purchasing was the cutest thing she'd ever seen. Really? That's the capstone? She's right, those bottles are probably way cuter than all those African kids with the swollen malnutrition bellies and flies on their faces who have no water at all. Well played, Tarjay lady. Yes, I did see her loading her plastic shrine into an SUV five minutes later, but I digress.

Here are some facts about her precious bottled water: "A person can live weeks without food, but only days without water. A person needs 4 to 5 gallons of water per day to survive. The average American individual uses 100 to 176 gallons of water at home each day, and the average African family uses about 5 gallons of water each day." Yes, we concede the body needs water, but does it need that mountain of plastic that seems to go along with it? Due to our addiction to bottled water, 38 billion bottles a year end up in landfills. I guess they're not so cute when they're empty, huh? Get a reusable bottle and find something other than the fact that your water came from Fiji to get psyched about already. And just because you have access does not mean you should abuse it, and in that vein, that you always will have access. Take the minute and a half to figure out how much you're using, then make an active decision to use less.

Another huge consumer impact is made when you choose not to purchase meat. Fast food companies and meat lobbyists pay billions of dollars a year to keep y'all yearning for meat, but frankly, it shouldn't be what's always for dinner. Digestive purposes aside, the fact that it takes the farmed animal industry approximately 5,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat and only 25 pounds to produce one pound of wheat is a hard one to stomach. You don't even have to think animals are cute or that they feel pain or have feelings to wrap your brain around that one. That means you could in theory, eat one pound of meat or have a year's worth of showers. And then if you push one step further and take into account that it averages approximately 13 pounds of wheat or grain to produce one pound of edible beef (not bone), your mind might explode. I know what I'd pick...a lot less meat in my diet.

Even if you cannot give up meat completely, you certainly can choose to eat less of it, just think how logically thirst-quenching it could be. That would be way more water you could drink from your tap instead of from a plastic bottle. Because if you are still going to choose to eat anything it is going to have to be farmed on land not filled with plastic bottles... See, this is how all the dots can be connected and I can make myself feel once again as though my personal choices have an impact, as would everyone else's. Enough for now, my high horse and I are thirsty.


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