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Graham Hill

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Eating Green...Or Just Not Eating

Posted: 01/27/09 02:22 AM ET

If you want to eat green, a flood of information is available to aid you. You can turn vegetarian, vegan, or locavore and join Internet mailing lists or social networks with like-minded folks. You can save the food wrappers and other trash your new eating lifestyle generates, and write a book, blog about it, or make a movie.

And no doubt about it, the changes you make are positive for the earth. Sometimes in the face of so much media attention, and hoopla, and even hysteria, we forget that we do these things, in our own, imperfect human way, because they benefit the earth. The more local we eat, the less food miles and CO2 our meals generate.

Cutting meat just once or twice a week will drop the preposterously high percentage (18%) of our greenhouse gas emissions that come from livestock production. And (surprise, surprise) making and eating our meals at home is the easiest way to get healthier. It's also a plus for family togetherness.

Yet in all the talk about what to eat, and not eat, what our diets should and shouldn't include, eating green has begun to suffer just a bit from excessive moralizing, and an us-versus-them mentality.

It doesn't have to be that way. Yes, eating well and eating earth-friendly are something we may need to relearn, in a way, to help us shift from some of the trends that have harmed our and our planet's health. Slow food instead of fast, simple instead of super-processed.

And there's another way to green our thinking around eating. We can - as countless religions have counseled, and people of yore have practiced - voluntarily fast one or two days a week.

A review of the scientific literature shows that fasting (no eating yet drinking water) may be an effective way to reduce disease, extend our health and our lives. It gives our digestion, our organs, and also our planet a rest. Fasting one or at most two times per week along with an exercise program including resistance training, is beginning to gain notice as an alternative to endless dieting with its rules, restrictions, and complications.

A day of fasting can also give us what we lack so much in the modern world - time to contemplate. It could be the time to stop, connect with, and take a good look at nature, or the slo-mo thinking space needed to create something, whether art or earth-saving technology.

Famous thinkers of the world - Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Upton Sinclair, Cesar Chavez - fasted to highlight their personal causes and beliefs, and also as a health aid or remedy.

Conventional medical thinking is somewhat divided about the benefits of fasting. So it is as personal a decision as say, vegetarianism, and one that deserves as much thought and education.

Still, it is food (or not) for thought. In the past we've given a day to the Earth each year...how about now striving for once each week?

More from TreeHugger on green eating
::Eating Green: Locavore vs. Life Cycle
::Fasting - Rethinking the System That Is Food
::TH Blog Love: Our Favorite Greens of the Week
::Explore the Hebrew Holiday of Shavuot and the Environment With Heschel Centers' Webinar
::9 Must Read Books on Eating Well
::5 Strategies for Getting the Most From Your Farmer's Market
::Hot to Go Green: Eating

 

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