The food industry’s priorities lie in making food that’s cheap to produce, unnaturally long-lasting and available in all places, all year long. And while this approach to food has been wildly profitable for the agricultural business giants, it’s neither healthy for humans nor sustainable for the finite planet that we live on.
The packing, grading, warehousing, safety checking and transportation methods of our food system are in critical need of an overhaul. We need a new system that prioritizes human and planetary values over short term, shareholder profits.
Did you know that the U.S. imports 90 times more produce than we did in 1950? Much of that travels thousands of miles to reach its final destination. The distance your food travels also equates to an exponential loss in nutritional content. With so many soils already lacking in nutrients, it is really important that we're able to take advantage of the remaining nutrients while they can still offer us some benefit.
We need to reconfigure the system in a way that prioritizes human and planetary values over short-term, shareholder profits and one that is still efficient enough to be a viable alternative.
So what are the potential solutions?
Prioritize freshness and flavor. Freshness is a necessary component for any flavorful dish, but we've been deprived of fresh foods for so long, that below average flavors have become standard. We need a fresh and organic food system to become the norm and not a luxury.
Embrace local seasonality. This is a lifestyle adjustment that is particularly hard for modern Americans to wrap their heads around. We’ve lived our entire lives with unprecedented access to anything and everything our taste buds desire. However, embracing seasonal items can actually help make your cooking more exciting due to increased variety of both flavors and techniques. Have a look at the USDA's Seasonal Produce Guide to see when your favorite items are typically in season.
Support regenerative agriculture. Another way to reduce the logistical burden of your food is by supporting regenerative agriculture. These farms don't use tons of fertilizer (or pesticides, obviously). These types of farms generate their own compost year over year, creating soils that don’t need external inputs. There is no waste on these farms and they are almost completely self-sustaining.
Eat more plants. It's that simple. There is so much power in eating plants, not only for yourself, but for the planet. Choosing to eat more plants is the single biggest way that an individual can have a positive impact on the environment. Reducing the amount of animal products and processed goods that the U.S. consumes will begin to course correct the heavy toll that the logistics of food takes on our environment everyday.