Green and healthy- eating fresh local food is as good for the environment as it is for your health

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

The impact of our diet on the environment is big news this week. It's even made the Archers.

According to the BBC, if you eat beef 3-5 times a week for a year then you are responsible for adding 1,611kg to your annual greenhouse gas emissions - equivalent to driving a standard petrol car for 4,112 miles. That's a lot of bovine wind. Compare that to only 20kg of greenhouse gases (53 miles in a petrol car) created by eating beans 3-5 times a week and I suggest that you can dismiss any resultant flatulence of your own as a piffling insignificance!

Its not just beef. Large scale food production requiring land clearing and chemicals has a massive environmental cost.

Eating more sustainable foods is good news for our health too.

Eating local produce does not just reduce food miles. Shorter field to plate time reduces the need for preservatives. Small scale food production with a focus on quality rather than quantity tends to involve less processing. Avoiding supermarket contact reduces presentation optimisation with additives and plastics. Food that needs no labelling is almost invariably better for you than food that needs an exhaustive list of ingredients.

We are conditioned to choose a nice clean potato rather than an earthy one but just think how its got to look like that - its probably been machine sprayed with detergents rather than rinsed by hand. There's also a theory that eating unfettered vegetables is good for our biome - the range of bacteria that live in our bodies and are vitally important to keeping us in a healthy status quo.

Advice on diet is plentiful, confusing and often heavily biased. Lifestyle Medicine firmly supports a whole food plant based diet. That's not the same as recommending an entirely vegan or vegetarian diet. As a pragmatist my general advice is to aim to have plenty of vegetables in a Mediterranean style diet. Cook from fresh and try to avoid processed foods and fads as much as possible.

Don't get me wrong, my diet is not perfect. As a proud Cornishman, I dearly love a pasty but even I have managed to slash my annual consumption of my mother's delicious pasties. Mum uses only local meat and vegetables. Admittedly the pasty is at least a foot long but as that is only slightly less than it's food miles, I like to think that my carbon foot print can take it.

Cornwall offers the perfect environment to trim down, green up and max out the health benefits of the fantastic, fresh produce in our stunning county. Make the most of what's on offer and eat well with fresh, local ingredients.

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