Sustainable Eating


When it comes to what we eat, it is clear that our choices have a significant impact on the future or our planet. An IPCC report published in August 2019 by United Nations scientists said that eating less meat, reducing food waste, and reforming agriculture could slash global emissions benefiting both our health and the environment. Worrying that meat production is on an “unstoppable trajectory to become the single greatest contributor to climate change,” the Lancet Report called for guidelines “doubling global consumption of fruits, nuts, vegetables and legumes, and cutting the consumption of red meat in half.” Currently, 47.6% of our greenhouse gases come from meat.

The second, often unconsidered source of global emissions, is food waste. As 1 in 8 Americans struggle to put food on the table, over 40 percent of the food in the United States is never eaten. An enormous amount of resources and energy goes into growing, processing, transporting, and eventually disposing of all that wasted food. That includes, reports the NRDC, the climate-wrecking greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of the food system, plus water, fertilizer, packaging, labor, and more.

It’s clearly time for us to take a look at our diets. You might want to start by taking this quiz.

And, then:

  • eat seasonally, eliminating the distance what you eat has to travel
  • think mindfully about what you buy so as to waste less
  • consider the packaging of your food. Time to bring your own refillable coffee thermos and water bottles, your own food containers that can be washed and reused after lunch at the office, and your own bags to the grocery store
  • reduce your consumption of meat and lamb, increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and nuts

These simple transformations cannot come fast enough. As we become more aware of the complex issues in our food system, we must each find our own way to reduce our carbon footprint and re-establish our connection with food.

Whatever your path may be, this section is designed to help you understand the food revolution taking place and how to contribute to building a healthy and sustainable future through personal choices. There’s no doubt that we need to take collective action against climate change as citizens, but examining our kitchens is equally important — and a great place to start the sustainability journey.


Climate Change Means Farming Needs a Revamp to Secure Enough Food

By Agnieszka de Sousa 06/30/23
If you were vacationing in France last year, you may have noticed shortages of mustard on supermarket shelves.
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How does the food system impact the environment and what is its obligation to reduce climate change?

By Elizabeth Crawford 06/01/23
With between a quarter and a third of human caused greenhouse gas emissions linked to food production and climate change intensifying to a point that its impacting how, where and when key crops are grown,…
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What do consumers want from sustainable food and drink?

By Flora Southey 05/17/23
Research suggests Europeans are ‘highly motivated’ to buy sustainable food. How can brands best communicate their sustainability credentials to consumers? And amid a cost-of-living crisis, are shoppers willing to pay for it?
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Low-carbon diets can reduce global ecological and health costs

By Elysia Lucas, Miao Guo & Gonzalo Guillén-Gosálbez 05/15/23
Potential external cost savings associated with the reduction of animal-sourced foods remain poorly understood. Here we combine life cycle assessment principles and monetarization factors to estimate the monetary worth of damage to human health and…
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Peter Singer: Fix Your Diet, Save the Planet

By Peter Singer 04/22/23
The year of the first Earth Day, 1970, was the year I stopped eating meat. I didn’t do it to save the Earth, but because I realized that there is no ethical justification for treating…
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Scientists claim this diet is the best for supporting biodiversity and food security

By Rebecca Ann Hughes 04/12/23
Our choice of diet has important consequences for the environment and climate change. With droughts and diseases threatening food systems, it’s now all the more crucial that we try to make a difference with what…
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USDA announces rigorous new school nutrition standards

By Laura Reiley 02/03/23
New rules aimed at reducing sugars, fat and salt and increasing whole grains in school meals are drawing backlash, even as childhood obesity increases
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Climatarian? Regenivore? New diets take aim at climate change

By Jennifer A. Kingson 01/26/23
Move over, locavores: A slew of new labels — from "climavore" to "reducetarian" — reflect the trend of people eating with sustainability in mind to reduce their climate "foodprint."
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Climate impact labels could help promote sustainable food choices: study

By Gianna Melillo 01/04/23
Labels placed on fast food items highlighting their high climate impact may sway consumers to make more sustainable choices, new study results show.
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How Changing Diets Leave Us Exposed to War, Extreme Weather and Market Turbulence

By Bloomberg News 12/22/22
Bagels in New York. Cakes in Beijing. Instant noodles in Jakarta. Daily habits for billions, yet just a generation or so ago Indonesians would have likely reached for a bowl of rice or the Chinese…
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10 Leading Sustainable Food Companies to Support in 2023

By Olivia Lai 12/17/22
Food waste has become one of the biggest environmental issues and contributors to greenhouse gas emissions – food in landfills releases a potent methane gas, and when combined with food production’s intensive water and energy…
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Embrace what may be the most important green technology ever. It could save us all | George Monbiot

By George Monbiot 11/24/22
So what do we do now? After 27 summits and no effective action, it seems that the real purpose was to keep us talking. If governments were serious about preventing climate breakdown, there would have…
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To develop environmentally, economically, and emotionally enhancing agricultural prototypes and facilitate their duplication throughout the world. 


To kick off this eight-week series, we’ll be talking about best practices for minimizing food waste. In the upcoming weeks, you can expect to read about energy saving tips, strategies for reusing common items, how…

Animal Rights

Vegetarianism, Veganism, Pescatarianism, Flexitarianism. Never before have there been so many ways to define how and what we eat. But are these choices simply a matter of personal taste, or do they reflect a broader…

Opinion | Let’s launch a moonshot for meatless meat

I’m a vegan, but I’m also a realist. There’s no chance humanity is going to give up meat, en masse, anytime soon. That said, we can’t just wish away the risks of industrial animal agriculture.…

Land to market adds the good kitchen as member in regenerative agriculture movement

Land to Market, the world’s first verified sourcing solution for regenerative agriculture, is pleased to welcome Charlotte, North Carolina-based, The Good Kitchen, home meal delivery service as a new member of Land to Market. As…

He Wrote a Gardening Column. He Ended Up Documenting Climate Change.

In the summer of 2019, Jeff Lowenfels told me, one of his friends successfully grew okra in Anchorage. Lowenfels could not believe it. The crop was shorthand for all the change he has witnessed since he…

Environmental Impacts of Food Production

Food, energy and water: this is what the United Nations refers to as the ‘nexus’ of sustainable development. As the world’s population has expanded and gotten richer, the demand for all three has seen a…

Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems

Food systems have the potential to nurture human health and support environmental sustainability; however, they are currently threatening both.

Food security and nutrition around the world in 2020

Five years into the 2030 Agenda, it is time to assess progress and to question whether continuing efforts implemented thus far will allow countries to reach SDG 2 targets.

Vegetable Gardening For Beginners

Ready to jump into gardening? It can be daunting at first, but gardening is an incredibly rewarding hobby to get into. Our Vegetable Gardening Guide for Beginners will help you to plan and grow your…

Consumer Resources to Support Sustainable Seafood from the Seafood Watch Program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

What You Can Do: The easiest and most important thing you can do is ask the question: "Do you serve sustainable seafood?" Let your favorite businesses know that ocean-friendly seafood's on your shopping list.

Eating Fish Sustainably

For millions of people globally, eating fish is a key component of a balanced and healthy diet. Because of its growing popularity, the fishing industry has grown significantly over the years. According to the National…

Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change

The food system is responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions while unhealthy diets and high body weight are among the greatest contributors to premature mortality. Our study provides a comparative…

The Smart Seafood Buying Guide

Five ways to ensure the fish you eat is healthy for you and for the environment.

Humankind – Climate Friendly Food Guide

There’s no getting around it: The foods we eat have a huge environmental impact and they contribute to global warming. That’s why a lot of people who are concerned about recent weather extremes and climate…


Tough times for plant-based meat

By Jennifer A. Kingson   10/25/22  
Companies that make faux burgers and other meat substitutes are laying off employees and staring down weak sales, amid what Beyond Meat describes as "ongoing softness in the plant-based meat category."
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Veganism Might Not Be the Most Sustainable Diet

By Bob Holmes   08/21/22  
As governments drag their feet in responding to climate change, many concerned people are looking for actions that they can take as individuals—and eating less meat is an obvious place to start. Livestock today account…
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The Best Diet for the Climate Crisis Takes Red Meat Off the Menu

By Lloyd Alter   08/17/22  
Agriculture is responsible for 26% of global greenhouse emissions.1 Much of that comes from raising livestock and the crops the livestock eat, so our diet can make a big difference in emissions. But what is…
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By Priyanka Naik   05/27/22  
I know this may come as a shock, but I spend most of my time in the kitchen. And I use a ton of kitchen appliances ― blenders, mixers, air fryers ― you name it,…
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The Newest Face of Fake Meat? Kim Kardashian

By Kevin Hurler   05/25/22  
You see, Kim, arguably one of the world’s biggest stars, wants you to know that she’s a huge fan of this fake meat, so much so that the brand has given her a seat at…
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What if veggie burgers were the menu default and beef a special request?

By Sarah Deweerdt   05/17/22  
“We think that this is good news for restaurant operators who are willing to contribute to the struggle against the climate crisis, because they can easily contribute to this struggle by adding carbon labels or…
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Vegetable Systems Trial

VST is specifically designed to analyze nutrient density in the finished crops. It’s the first of its kind—no other crop comparison study has been focused on exploring the links between soil health and human health.
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This Antioxidant May Provide a Key Link Between Regenerative Agriculture and Human Health

By Katherine Kornei   05/10/22  
It’s a question that Laura Stewart has heard many times: “What’s the white stuff?” Stewart and her husband, Ches, sell mushroom-growing kits, and dense networks of hair-like strands—mycelium—shoot through the bags of compressed sawdust and…
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The Field Report: We Asked the USDA About Its New Garden—and Its Larger Climate Goals

By Lisa Held   05/05/22  
On Tuesday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and several other officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gathered just off the National Mall to announce the reopening of the People’s Garden. They congregated on…
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5 steps you can take now to make your kitchen eco-friendly

By Priyanka Naik   05/04/22  
Sustainable chef Priyanka Naik offers tips for building a greener kitchen. Sign up for the Ecokitchen newsletter series to learn more. ...
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Green Mediterranean diet could be a ‘win-win’ for health and the planet

By James Kingsland   03/22/22  
People who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But new research suggests that a “green” Mediterranean diet — which avoids all meat and provides extra greens —…
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Smarter choices at the dinner table can go a long way to help the Amazon

By Richard Schiffman   03/09/22  
‘We are going to be eating the rainforest in our burgers. This is our moment as Americans to step forward and leverage some pressure to save the world,’ one scientist said.
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Seed Oils: Sludge for our Health and the Environment?

By Kevin Silverman   02/11/22  
Perhaps one of the broadest areas of consensus in regenerative circles is the philosophy of viewing “food as medicine.” One particular trend under scrutiny with this paradigm is the meteoric rise of vegetable oil consumption…
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Opinion | Let’s launch a moonshot for meatless meat

By Peter Prato   01/24/22  
I’m a vegan, but I’m also a realist. There’s no chance humanity is going to give up meat, en masse, anytime soon. That said, we can’t just wish away the risks of industrial animal agriculture.…
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Cultivated Meat Passes the Taste Test

By Aryn Baker   01/19/22  
Renowned Israeli gastronome Michal Ansky knows her food. She’s a professional taster and a Master Chef judge. So when she was invited to the world’s first public blind taste test pitting lab-grown, or cultivated, chicken…
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Rich nations could see ‘double climate dividend’ by switching to plant-based foods

By Ayesha Tandon   01/10/22  
Adopting a more plant-based diet could give rich countries a “double climate dividend” of lower emissions and more land for capturing carbon, a new study says.
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Taking Stock And Looking Forward: Climate and Animal Agriculture

By The Civil Eats Editors   12/28/21  
As 2021 comes to an end, we take stock of another momentous year that marked massive upheavals in the food system and across society. To lead us into 2022, we asked some of the leading…
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Clash of the kitchens: California leads the way in a new climate battleground

By Evan Halper   12/16/21  
The most luxurious gas stoves and ovens a home chef could desire fill the cavernous Snyder Diamond showroom in Van Nuys, but the cooking appliance the owner seems most excited about doesn’t use gas at…
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Emissions from Diet Could Eat Up the Entire 1.5 Degree Carbon Budget

By Lloyd Alter   06/15/21  
In the 2018 Special Report on Global Warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celcius (3.6 Fahrenheit), "global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)…
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Protein-Filled, With a Low Carbon Footprint, Insects Creep Up on the Human Diet

By Emiko Terazono   06/15/21  
Harry Wright’s new range of smartly packaged seasonings looks like the sort of artisanal fare found at any foodie market or upmarket deli. But they have a distinctive ingredient: ground, roasted crickets.
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Is the global food system broken, and, if so, will a push towards plant-based diets fix it?

By Jane Byrne   05/27/21  
Michael Lavin, founder and managing partner of Chicago based, Germin8 Ventures, a purpose-driven VC firm that invests in companies fixing the global food system, shared his thoughts with us on the future of food production,…
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Putting a sustainable diet in context generates some surprises

By Emma Bryce   05/14/21  
There is increasing acceptance that worldwide diets—especially of majority meat-eating countries—need to change to fall in line with global sustainability goals. This is reflected in a rising wave of dietary guidance on the best foods…
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7 Tips to Make Your Eating Habits More Sustainable

By Hilary Macht   04/30/21  
“Choosing a better, more sustainable diet is one of the main ways people can improve their health and help protect the environment,” says Michael Clark, PhD, a researcher at the University of Oxford in the…
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Cutting Out Beef Could Cut Agricultural Land Use In Half

By Lloyd Alter   03/05/21  
Treehugger has been writing about the problems of meat forever, we have been pitching vegetarian and vegan diets for years as a way of reducing one's carbon footprint, and we keep writing posts about reducing…
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Vote with your forks’ for a healthier you and greener planet

People in the Sid Valley have responded enthusiastically to the many initiatives to increase biodiversity in our patch. But did you know that we can vote with our forks and eat our way to a…
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Hershey’s deforestation policy cracks down on cocoa suppliers while honing in on chocolate’s carbon emissions

The Hershey Company’s new commitment to ending deforestation includes a crackdown on any cocoa supplier who breaches the policy, which may lead to suspension or complete removal from the company’s supply chain. The No Deforestation…
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RESEARCH SUGGESTS SWITCHING TO A PLANT-BASED DIET is one way a person can help reduce the impacts of climate change. However, the U.S. dietary guidelines — nutritional advice published every five years by the Department of Agriculture and the Department…
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Global Food Security Declines Again

On Tuesday, the Economist Intelligence Unit released the ninth annual Global Food Security Index (GFSI) sponsored by Corteva, which measures the underlying drivers of food security in 113 countries, based on the factors of affordability,…
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Interactive: What is the climate impact of eating meat and dairy?

By Daisy Dunne   09/14/20  
Food production accounts for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and takes up half of the planet’s habitable surface. A taste for meat has had a particular impact on land. The mass of animals…
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Eating our way to a healthier planet

By Eve Turow-Paul and Sophie Egan   05/15/20  
Yeast, vegetable seeds and local farm boxes are new hot-ticket items. Windowsill scallions are having their moment in the sun. People are exchanging tips on how to use every bit of food in the fridge,…
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6 of the most sustainable meat alternatives

By Jeannette Cwienk   05/13/20  
Coronavirus outbreaks in abattoirs have brought our taste for meat sharply into focus. The industry is associated with poor working conditions and is damaging the climate. So what other high-protein options are there?
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Fertilizing a garden entirely for free

By Kara Stiff   02/25/20  
At our house we have a goal to produce 80% of our fruit, veggies, meat and dairy within five years of moving onto our land. We only eat a little meat and dairy, but we…
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So, Is Organic Food Actually More Sustainable?

By Naomi Zimmerman   02/05/20  
Ultimately, sustainable food production is a tradeoff between optimizing yield and minimizing environmental degradation...
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Why Planting a Bee Garden Is Good for Pollinators, Good for the Planet, and Good for You!

By Ingrid Koivukangas   01/18/20  
As the climate of the Earth changes, bees and pollinators are under increasing threats from urbanization and development, heavy chemical and neonicotinoid pesticide use, and shifting weather patterns that create increased temperatures, droughts, fires, floods…
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McDonald’s bump! Beyond Meat stock pops after Impossible Foods abandons the Golden Arche

BY Christopher Zara   01/07/20  
The fake-meat wars just got real. Shares of Beyond Meat popped more than 13% in late-afternoon trading today after its rival Impossible Foods said it is no longer trying to win over the world’s largest…
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Why the 2020 Golden Globes’ Menu Will Be 100 Percent Plant Based

By Kelli Boyle   01/02/20  
The 2020 Golden Globes are going vegan. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced on Thursday that this year's meal at the Golden Globes ceremony will be entirely plant-based, in an effort to raise awareness about…
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Can Chefs Learn to Love Cooking Without Fire?

By Tom Philpott   11/11/19  
A push to electrify buildings suggests the end is nigh for gas ranges.
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What Sandwich War? KFC Sells Out of Plant-Based ‘Chicken’ in Atlanta

By Derrick Bryson Taylor   08/28/19  
The fast-food chain tested Beyond Fried Chicken at one location this week.
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9 Surprising Ways McDonald’s Is Changing the Future of Fast Food Forever

By Peter Economy   12/22/18  
In the United States alone, McDonald's sells more than 1 billion pounds of beef and more than 500 million cups of coffee each year.
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Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown

By Damian Carrington   10/10/18  
Huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of the food system’s impact on the environment. In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by…
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The Carbon Footprint of a Cheeseburger

By Six Degrees   04/04/17  
While there are carbon calculators that help you to determine how much carbon emissions are created by your consumption, they just look at all of the emissions that you use directly. They don’t help you…
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Seaweed as a rich new source of heart-healthy food ingredients

In an article that may bring smiles to the faces of vegetarians who consume no dairy products and vegans, who consume no animal-based foods, scientists have identified seaweed as a rich new potential source of…
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Veganuary is a tough sell

By Jennifer A. Kingson   01/09/22  
Veganuary, a campaign that started in the U.K. to get people to give up meat and dairy for the month, is in its third year in the U.S., where it's catching on slowly.
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Meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production, study finds

By Oliver Milman   09/13/21  
The global production of food is responsible for a third of all planet-heating gases emitted by human activity, with the use of animals for meat causing twice the pollution of producing plant-based foods, a major…
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Third of global food production at risk from climate crisis

By Fiona Harvey   05/14/21  
Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have calculated that about 95% of current crop production takes place in areas they define as “safe climatic space”, or conditions where temperature, rainfall and aridity fall within certain…
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What if the United States stopped eating meat?

By Frank Mitloehner   12/04/20  
If Americans’ gave up meat and other animal products, would that solve our climate crisis? Research says no. In fact, it continues to demonstrate giving up meat would be a woefully inadequate solution to the…
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Got Beef? Here’s What Your Hamburger Is Doing To The Climate

By David Vetter   10/05/20  
The ethics of killing animals for their meat have been debated for centuries. But in recent years, the looming specter of climate change has given meat eaters an additional dilemma to consider: cattle and dairy…
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How to best make use of your garden to help tackle climate change

By Tom Bawden   08/22/19  
Scientists have hit upon an unorthodox but highly effective way for households to tackle climate change - recreate a "pocket" wetland in your back garden.
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Chef Dan Barber On How Delicious Food Can Solve the Global Food Crisis

By Madeline Ostrander   08/20/19  
What if we could revolutionize agriculture by making the food we grow tastier? Dan Barber, one of the country’s most lauded chefs, insists that it’s possible and sustainable to feed the world by focusing our…
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Soon you can feel a little less guilty about enjoying that dill pickle with your meal

By Lauren Gandy   08/19/19  
Did you know that the brine used to make pickles is saltier than seawater? While this gives pickles their delicious taste, it also creates concerns about the water waste – the salt concentration in pickle…
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