In our last few blog posts, we’ve been revealing how our food choices impact the environmental health of our planet—mainly our oceans. But of course those same food choices also have an enormous impact on our whole planet. Here are a couple of more issues to keep in mind:
The overgrazing of livestock is an important factor in the rapidly diminishing amount of topsoil worldwide. Topsoil is the thin, rich layer of soil where most of the nutrients for plants are found. Most of the land-based biological activity of the Earth takes place in this layer of soil. But according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund, our planet has lost 50 percent of its topsoil in the last century and a half. Another estimate calculates that we only have about 60 years worth of useful topsoil left!
Global warming is threatening to lower the yields of our crops. The mechanism at work here is that most of our major crops have a built-in heat tolerance that they’ve evolved over the last several thousand years. No doubt some of these crops have survived climate change before, but that was during periods where the climate became warmer or colder over a period of hundreds or thousands of years, which gave those plants the chance to adapt to the new temperatures through evolutionary change. But the accelerated rate of climate change caused by human activity will short-circuit our crops’ natural ability to adapt to the new conditions. If, however, the world shifts to a more plant-based diet, we can slow global warming considerably and avoid decreasing crop yields. This is due to the inherent inefficiency of animal agriculture. It’s been calculated that for every 100 calories of grain we feed animals, we only get 12 calories of chicken, 10 calories of pork, and a shockingly low 3 calories of beef.
And there’s even more to come …
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.