Guys, you may not know this about me, but I love food. Like, a lot. I love hearing it fall into my food bowl in the morning, I love seeing it waiting for me it the same place in the kitchen every day, I love smelling it–even when I’m too lazy to get off the couch to go get it–and, of course, I love eating. (Sometimes I even delve into the forbidden delights hiding in the trash can when my people aren’t home, but that’s another story.)
So, naturally, Food Day is my favorite holiday. And no, I’m not talking about the human holiday when my people’s family sneaks turkey scraps to me under the table (although that one is pretty good, too). I mean Food Day, Oct. 24, when Americans take a look at our diets and food policies.
Now, I’m a very health-conscious basset, but the average American diet is contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems–problems that land them in the hospital and cost Americans more than $150 billion per year.
Plus, a meat-heavy diet takes a terrible toll on the environment. Like I’ve written about before, large-scale agriculture has a huge carbon footprint, and livestock farming is particularly hard on the environment. Four-fifths of the deforestation across the Amazon rainforest (where some of my more exotic cousins like the capybara and the golden lion tamarin live) could be linked to cattle ranching. Factory farms where pigs and other livestock are kept in very tight quarters can produce as much sewage waste as a small city (that’s a lot of poop!). On those farms they use lots of antibiotics to keep the animals healthy, but using those antibiotics creates antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria–bad news for humans and bassets.
Now, as a carnivore, I can hardly preach vegetarianism. But you can make a big difference with small changes. I’ve seen #meatlessmonday trending around the social media-sphere as a great way to start reducing meat consumption–without having to drastically change your diet. And this year’s Food Day theme is “Towards a Greener Diet,” to promote eating more whole plant-based foods as a way to become healthier and to help animals and the environment. What’s not to love?
If you’re looking for a way to get involved with Food Day here in Asheville, check out UNC Asheville’s “Stone Soup” Food Day celebration (full disclosure, I am an honorary Bulldog) on Oct. 27. They’re collecting ingredients and recruiting volunteers to create a healthy and delicious meal to serve to folks in food-insecure part of our community.
I love meat. It’s hard to give up, even when you really do love the environment and really do want to live more sustainably. If you just can’t stand it and have to sink your teeth into some flesh (I totally get it), consider buying your meat from a local farm. Hickory Nut Gap Farms in Fairview, NC (just out side of Asheville) offers all kinds of delicious meats, and they are grassfed, farmed sustainably, and if you live in Asheville it doesn’t take a truckload of C02 to get the meat from the farm to your table (smaller carbon footprint!).