Mandy Kloppers

Are You Sitting Comfortably?


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Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Sometimes I have to wonder if too many of us (myself included) sit too comfortably in our safe little spaces whilst the world around us literally disintegrates. I truly believe that there are many good people, who given the chance, would do the right thing. Maybe the good people of this planet need to take more action to combat the minority who promote madness and mayhem.

It is easy to feel insignificant and powerless but we can all do our bit to try make the world a more liveable, harmonious environment.

With some issues close to my heart, such as animal welfare, I make a conscious effort to choose environmentally friendly foods. Free range food where animals can roam free, tuna products that don’t involve unnecessary killing of dolphins in fish nets and local produce that helps reduce the carbon footprint by travelling smaller distances, are all part of my strategy.  Buying seasonal produce also makes a difference.

Let’s say you want a tomato, but where you live, tomatoes aren’t in season. You’ll have to get a tomato from the grocery, and if you live in the United States for example, your grocer likely sells tomatoes that came from either Florida or Mexico. This tomato was picked green, so it wouldn’t rot during transit, and travelled to your grocery store via an 18 wheeler truck. Once it arrived in your area, it likely was placed in a warehouse where it was gassed with ethylene to force it to ripen artificially.

On the other hand, if you buy a tomato in season from a local farmer, it likely ripened on the vine before it was plucked and travelled a short distance, saving tons of carbon emissions. Your tomato also tastes better. Why? Tomatoes need sunlight to produce sugar, which gives them their signature sweet, rich taste. If your tomato was picked when it wasn’t ripe, it’ll taste more like water.

If you eat beef products, you can’t do much better ecologically than grass-fed. Grass-fed means the cattle are raised and fed on pastures as opposed to in feedlots, where they’re shoveled grains and antibiotics. Eating too many grains can boost the amount of E. coli in a cow’s stomach, which can sometimes lead to tainted meats and mass health scares.

Research suggests that grass-fed beef, on the other hand, has more nutrients than grain-fed, specifically more beta-carotene, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Cows have naturally evolved to eat grass, not grains.

But grass-fed isn’t just healthier. Because the cows eat grass rather than corn or soy, the fertilizers and pesticides normally used on the farm to grow the feed aren’t used at all. Rather than being cooped up with feed, the cows simply wander the pastures, which is more humane treatment for the animals. Farmers rotate their cattle through different pastures each year, which becomes a natural way to use and reuse land. When animals graze in a certain area, their manure fills that pasture. The manure disperses into the soil at a slow rate and naturally fertilizes it, making the soil healthy to grow more grass. The cows can then return to that pasture to feed.

Health experts tell us to eat fish for its omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy and help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Salmon in particular is known for being high in omega-3s. However, if you want to be ecologically conscious, you should check into how your salmon arrived at your grocery store before you purchase it.

When salmon is dubbed “sustainable,” that means that catching it won’t put a dent in the salmon population and that the biodiversity of the fish habitat isn’t negatively impacted. Environmentalists agree that wild Alaskan salmon is your best choice ecologically, since this type salmon isn’t overfished and catching it won’t negatively impact the salmon population or the biodiversity of the ocean.

On the other hand, farmed Atlantic salmon causes many problems for environment and fish populations, and here’s why: In fish farms, thousands of fish are crammed into small areas, resulting in an accumulation of feces and the easy spread of disease. Because many of these fish farms are ocean based, the waste spills out into the surrounding waters and disease can be spread to the wild fish population. If the farmed fish are fed any sort of chemicals or hormones, those also leak into the surrounding waters via fish excrement. In some cases, the pollution is so bad that researchers have actually noted the rotting of the ocean floor[source:].

Organic farming aims to minimize environmental impact through methods like crop rotation, compost, biological rather than chemical pest control, and green rather than synthetic fertilizers. Crop rotation keeps the biodiversity of the soil strong. Planting the same crops over and over in the same soil robs the soil of its nutrients over time and results in the need for fertilizers and soil additives. If crops are rotated, there’s no need for additives. Also, when chemical pesticides are not used on crops, it protects the water table from those contaminants.

Organic produce is also free from genetic modification, which is when the DNA of a plant is altered to make the fruit or vegetables more desirable. For example, genetic modification may cause the plant to produce more fruit or vegetables, or it may make the plant resistant to certain diseases. Some people object to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), particularly when they’re designed to be herbicide resistant, which means that a farm can soak an entire field in herbicide to kill the weeds, and the crop will still survive. Genetic modification skeptics have concerns about what effect this herbicide soaking will ultimately have on the soil and on the human body.


Mandy X




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