“Local” should be another qualifier when choosing your foods. From produce to meat, fish, and eggs—locally grown matters. Eating local ensures you are getting the freshest food possible. The minute you pick a piece of fruit or a vegetable, it begins to lose its nutritive qualities. Add to that, most produce is picked unripe and left to ripen en route to the grocery store, meaning it never develops its full capacity of antioxidants, such as vitamin C. Each dollar you spend on local produce is a vote to support local farmers and small businesses in your local economy. You also support reducing fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions because of the miles of travel that are saved getting fresh food to your plate.



As we all know, the production of meat takes a huge toll on the environment—likely greater than that of any other food. We should all be well versed in the inhumane and unhealthy practices involved with factory farming. What is lesser known, is that choosing the right kind of meat can have a positive impact on the environment, animal welfare, and the quality of their meat

Consider the following when choosing the healthiest meat options:
  • See if you can find grass-fed meat from small, sustainable farms, who also support the fair treatment of workers and livestock
  • The second best option, would be looking for the following labels on packaged meat from your grocery store or co-op:

– “Grass-fed”

– “Organic”

– “Animal Welfare Approved” and/or “Certified Humane”

  • Eat less meat. I am a huge advocate of a plant-based/Paleo hybrid diet, or what I call The Pegan (paleo-vegan) Diet. I discuss this diet more thoroughly in my book, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?


Similar to commercial meat production, factory-farmed chickens are subject to their own horrors. Chickens are the most drugged-up, caged-up animals that we eat. On top of the unethical treatment of these birds, many chickens are pumped with antibiotics, laborers on chicken farms endure brutal working conditions, and factory-farmed poultry uses up a lot of natural resources, like water. Buying the best poultry might be a bit more challenging than we thought. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources dedicated to helping us find the most sustainable poultry and eggs.

Consider the following when choosing the healthiest poultry and egg options:

• Buy chicken and eggs from small, local farms.

• Shop farmer’s markets for farm fresh eggs

  • Look for the following labels on poultry and eggs at your grocery store or co-op:

– “Animal Welfare Approved” and/or “Certified Humane”

 – “Pasture-raised”

– “Organic”

• Want to know how ethical your eggs are? Check out this scorecard which rates different egg companies based on how they treat their hens



From overcrowding in toxic fish farms to slave labor, and overfishing to water pollution, the reality is that most sources of fish and seafood are neither sustainable nor ethical. However, there are steps we can take today to become more responsible eaters.

Consider the following when choosing
the healthiest seafood options:

  • Eat “wild-caught” fish.
  • Diversify fish choices to help with overfishing.

• Source local fish. You can do so by joining a Community Supported Fishery Be aware of how much mercury is in different kinds of fish and how often they are safe to consume



The simple truth is that dairy is bad for our environment. Production of milk uses up our natural resources; dairy cows live very sad lives; and dairy farming communities are suffering because of exposure to waste pollution. The somewhat good news here is that not all dairy is created equal, so if we absolutely must have our cheese, yogurt, and milk, there are some options better than others.

Consider the following when choosing
the healthiest dairy options:

  • Cut down on cheese or save it for the occasional treat
  • Look for organic cheese from local farms
  • Look for the labels:

– ““Animal Welfare Approved” and/or “Certified Humane”

– “Certified Organic”

  • Consider goat or sheep milk dairy. Because they are not typically found on mega-farms, chances are their milk is more ethically produced than cows’ milk. Goats and sheep also produce less methane gas than cows; and because they are smaller, they require fewer resources.


When choosing the best grains, there are some key factors to consider. The majority of grain on the market has adverse effects on both consumers and the planet. Some of the larger issues at play with grain production are monoculture, food additives, pesticides/herbicides, and the cultivation of “super-grains” (i.e., quinoa), which due to worldwide demand , is becoming too expensive for the native Andean farmers who grow it, to consume themselves.

Consider the following when choosing
the best grain options:

• Limit grain consumption
• Eat a variety of grains
• Eat organic grains
• Try millet or teff, which requires fewer resources to produce



When it comes to the best protein choices for our environment, beans and legumes rank highly. With less water used and less greenhouse gas emissions produced than meat, these vegetarian sources of protein will leave conscious consumers at ease. The only bean that scores low is the ubiquitous soybean, which is cheap due to farm subsidies and present in everything from unhealthy processed foods (soybean oil, soy protein isolate) to livestock feed. Soybean agriculture relies heavily on herbicides and pesticides, especially Roundup (glyphosate), possibly the most-used toxic carcinogen on the face of the earth.

Consider the following when choosing
the best bean options:

• Choose organic beans (which are actually cheaper to produce than
conventional ones!).
• Avoid inflammation-causing soybean oil and conventional soy products.
• Soak and cook your own dry beans or buy canned beans with BPA free labels.
• Wash beans before cooking to remove harmful lectins (inflammatory agents).



Fruit is nature’s candy. Full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and even healthy fats — hello avocados (which most don’t know is a fruit)! While fruit can be exceptionally healthy, there are also some drawbacks to the types of fruit you might choose to eat and the quantity that you consume. Certain fruits can have a high carbon footprint, increased deforestation, and large pesticide load. They can also contribute to unsafe and violent working conditions, as in the case of Ecuadorian children forced to work in banana fields and packing plants where they are exposed to pesticides and other unsafe conditions (Human Rights Watch, 2002)

Consider the following when choosing
the best fruit options:

• Shop fruit that is local, seasonal and organic (i.e. farmer’s markets).
• Look for the “Equal Exchange” sticker on bananas, which means the food was
produced in a safe way that is fair to workers. EE
• Buy whole fruit, instead of pre-cut and packaged in plastic.


You know how I say sugar is sugar is sugar? All forms pretty much have the same effect on our bodies, but not the same effect on the environment. With the massive amount of pesticides and what is involved in the production, sugarcane and sugar beets have negative consequences for our air, soil, water, and wildlife. Splenda is polluting our oceans because 90 percent is unabsorbed by our bodies and flushed down our toilets into the waterways. Commercial beekeeping often involves practices like cutting off the wings of queen bees to keep them from leaving the colony. Industrial beekeeping has essentially turned into insect factory farming, with heavy pesticide use and mysterious diseases popping up and killing massive amounts of bees. Health wise, stevia is a decent option. Just look for Rainforest Alliance Certified and organic brands to avoid the support of clear-cutting rainforest land

Consider the following when choosing
the best options for sweeteners:

• Cut down or eliminate added sugars or sweeteners, for the health of your body
and the environment



You might remember the headlines a few years ago about the California drought and almond production. It takes about one gallon of water to grow just one almond. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios have a higher water footprint than other nuts and seeds. Brazil nuts, which are grown in the Amazon, thrive in “undisturbed forests” and rely on bees and other plants for survival. So, even though these nuts must be imported from long distances, their existence depends on healthy forests, which means that by eating Brazil nuts we are voting to keep forests healthy

Consider the following when choosing
the best option for nuts and seeds:

Buy organic. Nuts and seeds are oily and absorb pesticides easily


Now that the war on fat is over, most of us have been embracing oils with open arms. As a fat lover, this makes me happy, but I also want my readers to know that not all oils are created equal. Even the production of healthy oils can have damaging effects on rainforests, waterways, soil, farm workers, and more. It’s important to be discriminating about our oils, for our health and for our environment. Vegetable oils, like canola, soybean, corn, and safflower are just a few examples of the highly inflammatory oils I recommend avoiding. Did you know that canola oil can even be used as a pesticide?! If it kills bugs, what’s it doing to us? My advice is to stay away from vegetable oils completely

Consider the following when choosing
the best options for oils:

• For Palm oil, look for the “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil” (CSPO) label.
• Look for “Fair Trade” and “Organic” labels for coconut oil and olive oil.


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