for our future . . .







Food Pyramid For A Healthy Planet

By Lawrence Buzzell-Saltzman
Sustainable Small Cities Project, For the Future

Americans have become obsessed with dieting. The arguments rage over the virtues of low carbohydrate diets vs. high protein diets. The corporate food industry lobbies the government to control the contents of the food pyramid. The resulting food pyramid is often not based on science, but based on what corporate America thinks they can sell.

Here is a radical and simplified approach to the conventional food pyramid that focuses on food sources rather than carbohydrates vs. protein.

This pyramid carefully avoids the argument of whether one should be a vegan, vegetarian, or eat animal based foods - that is a moral and spiritual choice for each individual to make. This pyramid also moves beyond what is good just for you as an individual and considers the community, the region and the planet. Eat within this pyramid and you will be eating for not only your personal health but the health of the planet as well.

1. The base of pyramid, 40% or more, should be home grown organic food – food grown by you and your neighbors. This is the freshest food possible. You have the added gain of healthful exercise in the garden and the personal and spiritual satisfaction of that comes from growing your own food. You contribute to reducing the use of fossil fuel in shipping commercial food, you save money on food purchases, and you use water more wisely as part of the water used in irrigating food is returned to you when you eat the food you grow.

2. The second level of the pyramid is food purchased from local organic farmers. This food can be nearly as fresh as what you grow yourself. You are supporting the local economy and helping local organic farmers earn a fair living. You are still cutting down on the amount of fossil fuels used to ship the food and you are helping to preserve the environment by ensuring the survival of land dedicated to organic farming rather than chemical farming or paved-over suburban tracts. If it is totally impossible to grow your own food, then this level becomes the base of the pyramid as well.

3. The top and smallest proportion of the pyramid, perhaps about 10%, is organic food imported from other bio-regions. This food should represent the real surpluses of local economies and not food grown for export. If the food is fair traded, comes from farmer owned co-ops, or ethical companies that pay farmers a just price for their products, then it is reasonable to buy some of this food. Often this part of the diet will consist of specialty items that cannot be produced locally, so it doesn't have to compete with local food products. In the future, we should demand that imported food be sustainably shipped as well. As early as the 1970's, Jacques Cousteau was advocating the return of sailing ships utilizing modern technology and that competed in speed with oil burning freighters. These ships wouldn't pollute either the air or the ocean (including ocean noise pollution). Europeans are building advanced diesel engines for trucks which are clean burning and increasingly will run on sustainable bio-fuels.

By following the Healthy Planet Food Pyramid, you will be guaranteed that you are eating a healthy diet that also does minimal harm and much good for the environment as a whole. By definition, you avoid fast foods, over-processed foods and foods which harm the environment by their use of dangerous industrial farming methods.

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