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April 13, 2004 > Earth Day and Your Personal Food Choices

Earth Day and Your Personal Food Choices

by Nancy Lyon

Earth Day
On April 22, 1970, more than 20 million Americans - including students at 10,000 public schools and a thousand colleges around the country - gathered to express their concern about environmental issues. "Earth Day" was born.

The first Earth Day and its aftermath were a great success. On Earth Day 2004, we can celebrate the fact that the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our oceans, rivers, and streams are cleaner now than when Earth Day was first celebrated. We have banned lead in gasoline. We banned DDT. We reduced toxic air emissions. We established strong public health standards for drinking water. We have passed legislation to eliminate direct dumping of sewage into our oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams.

Celebrating Earth Day is a reminder that while we have taken significant steps to ensure a safer and healthier environment for ourselves and for our children, there is still much left to do. We must work diligently to maintain the progress made, preserve and protect our planet and its creatures on both a national and personal level.

Personal Food Choices
On the personal level, we might look to our food choices and how they impact the health of the planet, our personal wellbeing, and how animals raised for food are treated. Make choices by investigating factual information - still not provided by a food industry spending billions of dollars annually to convince you otherwise - and you may consider a change in your diet.

An organization called EarthSave was founded in 1988 by celebrated author John Robbins to encourage people to think about their dietary choices. EarthSave was the direct result of overwhelming reader response to Robbins' 1987 publication, Diet for a New America. The book clearly outlined the direct relationship between our heavy dependence on a meat-based diet to environmental destruction, pollution and extreme animal cruelty.

EarthSave is a vital and growing organization that continues the educational work that the book began. It encourages people, wherever they are on the food-choice continuum, to investigate eating a more plant-based diet.

Factory Farms Under Scrutiny
Factory "farms" that produce beef, pork and chicken have come under the scrutiny of public health professionals and environmental groups for the pollution and disease associated with the 2.7 trillion pounds of manure they produce each year.

The Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md., launched a program Sept. 9 to study and evaluate the effects of breeding large numbers of food animals in concentrated lots; factory farms.

David Brubaker, the project's director said in a statement, "The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous."

Manure from factory farms has been linked to diseases such as E. coli, listeria, and cryptosporidium. A hog farm with 5,000 animals produces as much fecal waste as a city with 50,000 people, yet the disposal methods are primitive and lead to disease, said Brubaker.

"The current system is totally dysfunctional," he added in a telephone interview. "The real costs are not reflected in the price of the chicken."

If everyone reduced his or her animal-food consumption by just 10 percent, the grain saved could be used to feed the hungry of the world. Our individual actions can reduce rain forest destruction for raising cattle, pollution of ground water from factory farming effluence and the associated air pollution, and inhumane conditions raising and slaughtering food animals.

EarthSave understands and respects that individuals make daily food choices due to a number of factors. These factors include social and cultural expectations, convenience, choices prepared in the home or school, mass advertising, peer pressure, and family demands. Their mission is to provide cutting edge, factual information and allow you to decide what is best for you in your unique circumstance.

There is power in your fork to help change the world for the better. By doing so, you can promote a healthier and more compassionate planetary and personal life. EarthSave offers support, educational materials, monthly potlucks, video showings and special events to help.

To contact EarthSave:
Bay Area: PO Box 865, Cupertino, CA 95015; voicemail: (408) 380-1214
Email: Website:

Earth Day & Earth Week Tips: Awareness, Conservation, Protection, Recycling Activities, Crafts, Projects, Recipes

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