An Overview

” Back Action Alley in Grocery Area ” by Random Retail (CC BY 2.0)

You are walking through the grocery store and pick up some pasta for dinner, you put it into your cart without looking at the ingredients. You do not realize that the grains used are not whole, they are simply enriched and not nearly as nutrient rich as what grew in nature. Next you grab some granola bars, you like the chocolate chip and peanut butter so you grab two boxes, it is on sale and you are all about the deals. Little did you know that the palm oil in your snack is costing the lives of orangutans and tigers.

In a world full of advertising and carefully constructed fairy tales, many people ignorantly shop without consideration for the real life impacts that their food choices have on the rest of the world we live in. Not only are highly processed foods full of chemcials, as listed clearly in their ingedients, but the animals products that are consumed regularly come from sick, scared animals butchered carelessly after a life of pain and misery.

“Factory Farming PSA” by
sam gutierrez (CC BY 2.0)

Such cruelty and greed to maximize profits while simultaneously destroying the environment and causing major health problems across the globe, should not be such a normal part of daily life. The food industry has become a profit based corporation that sees animals as machines and disregards the harm they have caused us all.

There is an environmental impact for everything you choose to consume and for the production of food. Social and political aspects of agriculture, animal rights, conservation, prevention of pollution, and many more have been the main issues when it comes to the growing food industry however, the greed of corporations often has been able to shrug off our concerns and move forward without consideration for the disasterous impacts that greed will have on future generations and the environment.

Vocabulary

Ecosystem: interacting system that encompasses a community and its nonliving physical environment. The abiotic factors that influence the biotic factores within an ecosystem include light, heat, water, minerals, and pH. Variations in these elements dictate the types and amounts of species (the biotic factors) that can survive in any given habitat.

“Fort Stewart Ecosystem” by the U.S. Army
 Environmental Command
(CC BY 2.0)

Community: a group of different species living in the same area and utilizing the same abiotic resources. This includes animals and plants as well as microbial organisms and fungi. Green plants are the only organisms that are able to produce their own food from sunlight in a process known as “Photosynthesis“. These green plants are at the bottom of the food chain and provide the nutrients to the herbivores. These nutrients move through the food web as carnivores and decomposes consume the herbivores.

Sustainability: the ability to meet current human need for natural resources without compromising future generations’ ability to meet their needs. With an ever increasing human population on earth, this is more important now than ever before if we wish to survive as a species.

Sustainable Agriculture: the use of agricultural methods that maintain soil productivity and a healthy ecological balance of soil minerals and nutrients. The method ideally will have minimal long term impacts on the environment.

Monoculture: the cultivation of only one type of plant over a large area. This process depletes the soil of its nutrients and requires the use of chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, and other harmful practices. It the complete opposite of an ecosystem and it destroys the top soil which creates desserts after many years of abuse on the land.

“Illinois Corn” by Randy Wick (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Biodiversity: the number, variety, and variability of organisms within an ecosystem. This includes the genetic variability between and within species, species richness, and overall ecosystem diverity (abiotic and biotic).

Species Richness: the number of different species that are known to live within an ecosystem. A larger species richness indicates greater diversity within the ecosystem, the greater the biodiveristy within the system the healthier it becomes.

Ecosystem Diversity: variation in the types of ecosystems found within a larger geographical region. More ecosystems means that there will be a larger variation in species types for both plants and animals for that region.

Grassroots Activism: locals from within a community who fight against corporate greed and pollution due to the direct negative impact the industry has had on their livelihood, family, and health.

“Rainforest” by Tristan Schmurr (CC BY 2.0)
The rainforests in Indonesia are being destroyed for palm tree plantations.
We destroy habitats and drive plant and animal species extinct, decreasing biodiversity, and its all for palm oil.

The human body as an ecosystem:

  • Is an organism made up of cells, tissues, muscles, organs, organ systems….but the human body is also an ecosystem. A home to microorganisms.
  • Biotic Factors: microbiome (in the gut), yeasts, fungi, viruses, bacteria (everywhere!!)
“King of Bacteria” by Morbid Mumbles (CC BY 4.0)
  • Abiotic Factors: oxygen, water, carbon dioxide, minerals/vitamins, a neutral blood pH, and acidic stomach pH. (Acidic blood will lead to the proliferation of cancer cells).
  • Interactions: food choices influence the types of bacteria that make up the microbiome, the microbiome is what digests the food stuffs that we are not able to. Antiobiotics will harm the microbiome and should be taken with a priobiotic to maintain the good bacteria in your gut.
  • Metabolic processes
  • Homeostasis

Health in America

Major Health Problems Today: obesity, diabetes, gluten allergies, heart disease, cancer, lactose intolerance.

Major Killers:

#1 Heart Disease

#2 Lung Cancer

#3 Colon Cancer

High Fiber, Low FatWhole Food Diet was recomended in the 1970’s to combat these health problems. Fiber is found only in plants, we are unable to digest it but the good bacteria in the microbiome is able to use it as fuel and help us in our digestion process. We have about 3lbs and 400+ different species of bacteria in our gut that require fiber in order to help us.

“Millet” by Steven Jackson (CC BY2.0)
Whole grains are how they were made in nature.

Environmental Problems

In extreme environments and ones that have little species richness, the elimination of one aspect can lead to the collapse of the entire ecosystem.

Pollution, climate change, deforestation are all causing ecosystems to collapse and communites to die off.

“Irving Pulp and Paper Mill at Reversing Falls, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada” by Tony Webster (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The #1 cause of deforestation in South America is cattle farming and in Indonesia it is due to the cultivation of palm oil. We are losing our rainforests and the biodiversity there for hamburgers and palm oil. It is disgusting. If we do not make changes now, we will not have a planet to call home tomorrow.

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