I thoroughly enjoyed speaking at the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival. This topic of Conscious Consumption encompasses a large topic that we face in our more modern times. What does “eating healthy” really mean? Living in a time where we can obtain anything with relative ease, we need to become savvy in our choices not only from the foods we eat but where our food comes from, how it is packaged, the wages of those involved and more!
I am writing more about this topic and creating a guide to help people who have an interest in this topic and would like to go more in depth with it. In the meantime, I would like to share more of the basics shared in my time speaking to a lovely group.
I highlighted that most of the food products we purchase are owned by 10 companies. Even when we look at organic food brands we can distill our dollars towards a small group of companies.
We can and already do have an impact as consumers on this industry. For instance:
- Organic purchases have quadrupled in a decade. It is “cool” to eat organic, even if “not healthy” organic choices.
- Non-BPA linings in cans and other products is now being advertised as a selling point for savvy shoppers.
- Phytlate-free packaging is another feature added to labels now.
- Non-GMO and Non-GMO verified programs are becoming more mainstream.
- Organic legislation is more prevalent.
- The sugar industry has been greatly effected by consumer demands. Many people have now heard of coconut sugar or stevia and are aware of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports increased use of supplements even from the ’90s to 2003-2006.
- We have seen a growth in farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs). They aren’t “just for hippies” anymore!
- These kinds of changes are not limited to the food industry!
There are questions that may arise for those “consciously curious” such as:
- What about plastic and packaging?
- What really happens to our recycling?
- How are our products being reused and repurposed?
- What about the organic foods that are still “junk food?”
- How about the differences in labelling? What are the subtleties and meaning with those labels (e.g. grass-fed, grass-finished, organic feed, 100% organic, natural flavors, no hormones, etc…).
What can WE do as consumers? Here are some suggestions:
- START Where YOU ARE!
- There is always choice available. Sometimes being conscious is hard; we learn something we may wish we didn’t know. Remembering there is always choice and wisdom that is unique to us. The expression, “one persons’ trash is another’s treasure” can apply.
- Be clear about your parameters and also leave space to change your mind.
- How are you making “rules” that are not serving you?
- How can YOU bring MORE EASE INTO YOUR EVERYDAY?
- Stay conscious of what THOUGHTS YOU CONSUME.
- BE and BE LOVE for Yourself, Others and The Planet!
If you wish to get more specific, see these ideas and action steps:
- See who owns your favorite foods.
- Substitute one item you eat for a local version.
- Visit your local farmer’s market OR meet and arrange a visit with one farmer at a time.
- Remove one packaged food.
- Drink water from a stainless, glass or pottery container.
- Eat a meal and snack without multi-tasking.
- Chew your food 7 times before swallowing.
- Aim to eat one more serving of vegetables a day (with a goal of 8-12 servings per day).
- Give GRATITUDE for the food you have!
I hope you enjoy these ideas. Please share your own! What do you do as a conscious consumer? What would you like to do if not already doing so? How can we support you?