Hi everyone! Fabian from the think-team here, back with food for thought (literally!). Clarissa wrote TWO (not one) blogs related to food and sustainability. I can't help but give my two cents about the topic (or more).
With food being at the bottom of our Hierarchy of needs, it makes sense that we have spent the last millennia to improve technologies around it. Our diets have changed ever since, for the better or worse... Accessibility has become less of a problem, which means we get to have direct access to sugary treats which we did not have as ancient beings. Also food waste and emissions are a thing. The world has now two opposing pandemics - obesity and hunger.
Regardless, malnutrition is a problem, for both those with and without access (somehow). Fortunately (and unfortunately) epidemiological studies exist! Yay so we have all the answers for what's best right? not really... Let me tell you about my journey with food.
THE MOST SUSTAINABLE FOOD
Aight let's skip the details, you want to know if giving up meat really is the real deal Is Going Vegan the Answer? (su-re.co). Truth is, it's more than plant-based = sustainability. The formula isn't that clear-cut. Someone who eats chicken may still be considered more 'sustainable than someone eating large amounts of quinoa and almonds (in terms of water intensity). Then it also depends on how much is imported (in terms of emissions) and practices (in terms of labor). Certifications are a start, but are they really helping out or causing more problems? Navigating the World of Certifications (su-re.co)
The debate goes on and on. But one might argue "I cannot give up meat because it is the best source of protein" or "milk is important". Some people argue you can replace things with supplements and that's okay, as long it's for the environment, right?
I don't really have strong opinions anywhere, my philosophy is to always update myself with the latest information. I think it's insufficient to look purely at the environmental impacts without taking into account what exactly we need. Which is a long story on its own. But then how much can you trust nutritional studies?
THE HEALTHIEST FOOD
The EAT-Lancet diet may be a good start Sustainable Eating Made Easy, or Is It? (su-re.co). But you will always find opposing studies. If you have 30 minutes to spare, this video covers the spectrum pretty well. Should humans be carnivores or herbivores? It starts of with understanding the context of the Okinawans, a group of people with the longest life expectancy.
The short answer is, epidemiological studies are difficult to interpret and generalize. No matter how much you track your intake, health is more than the diet. It includes sleep and exercise, which we probably do not focus as much to be honest. I used to track my micros with cronometer as such:
Turns out, I only become more stress about my food when in reality I wasn't focusing so much on improving my sleeping patterns. I spent more time planning, inputting data, than enjoying my food too. My optimization plan was not at all optimal. So I stopped doing this and immediately felt better.
Balance is the word you're looking for. Period. I've looked through and tried enough diets to know one thing. It's simple and complicated at the same time. It's kind of and should be an ongoing experiment. The world is changing and we should adapt. The general rules of thumb are:
1. Micromanaging will never ever work! But it is not a bad thing to be informed. So, do your research. Don't just trust anyone's word for it. Study your food sources and which food you think is good for you. Take everything with a grain of salt (also literally!)
2. Stick to whole foods and support your local farmer while you're at it. If you are here in Bali as a foreigner, it may be tempting to always get that nice imported vegetable, but explore local vegetables! Cassava or Papaya leaves are just as nutritious and dense in iron as broccoli or Kale. There are so many other fruits here that cannot grow anywhere, be open-minded to try!
3. Food is only one aspect but there are other things you can focus on. Don't deplete your energy over what to eat for dinner. The food industry is one of many contributors to emissions. Do not forget to focus on the other products you consume. Your other habits may cause more damage even if you're fully vegan. In terms of health, don't forget to exercise and sleep! It's about being well-rounded.
4. Food waste is a problem regardless of what you eat!!!! A message especially for all Indonesians, we're the third largest food waste producer in the world. It is really the silliest issue.
There is hope! We can still make the world a better place, but doing what we can at the household level. Here's a video of existing practices that may raise some hope.
With all that said, what is your favorite meal that captures all of this philosophy well? When I'm abroad, it's definitely oatmeal, but here I love Urap and I make sure my plate is clean. Be honest, how often do you throw your leftovers to the bin? We're all making progress one step at a time.
See you next week!