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Office of Sustainability and the Environment
Food Sustainable Food
Buying locally, sustainably grown, fresh, and less processed foods uses less energy and reduces green house gas emissions. Growing, processing, and delivering the food consumed by a family of four each year requires nearly 1000 gallons of gasoline, about the same amount used to fuel the family's cars. Fossil fuels are used to make, package, distribute and then apply (with big machinery) agriculture chemicals, like fertilizers and pesticides. We then burn fuel to transport food across the country or globe, and to store it in refrigerated trucks and warehouses along its journey. Processed foods suck up even more energy, in their production, as well in the production and disposal of their packaging. Eating fresh, local foods that have seen less time in a truck, warehouse, or cardboard box not only reduces the use of fossil fuels and its related emissions, it also tastes great and is good for you. It’s a win win!

Supporting sustainable and organic farming reduces the use of hazardous chemicals, such as petroleum-based fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that pollute our water and air and threaten human health. It also reduces exposure to genetically modified organisms, and anti-biotic and growth hormone residues. Exposure to drug residues in food has been linked to growing antibiotic resistance and high levels of hormones in humans. Organic and natural farming methods work with nature to build soil fertility, and attract helpful insects and pollinators so they don’t have to use harmful chemicals. Research is finding that organic and sustainably produced foods are higher in nutritional value.
Changing how you enjoy meat and dairy could have a bigger impact on climate change than getting rid of your car! Nearly 20% of global green house gas emissions come from production of meat and dairy. The majority of this comes from methane, which has a 23 times greater global warming effect than carbon dioxide. Animals raised in factory farms (called confined animal feeding operations - CAFO’s) live under extreme stress and eat grains like corn and soybeans, which cause them to emit even more methane then their peers that are raised grazing fresh grass on open pasture as nature intended them to be. Cutting meat from your diet for just one day a week, or even selecting chicken over beef, (which requires less land to graze and releases less waste and fewer emissions) can have a significant impact on the environment as well as your health. Consider joining the Meatless Monday Campaign – visit to learn more.
Last updated: Thursday, 07/07/2011
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Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626