I’ll admit it. Up until recently (the last 5 years or so), I didn’t really care about environmental issues. I wasn’t a “tree hugger” type and didn’t feel that my impact on the environment mattered. In fact, I rarely (if ever) even thought about it. However, as I’ve grown in my understanding of holistic health, something in me has begun to shift. I’ve started to pay attention to conversations revolving around agriculture practices, water quality issues, pollution, recycling, chemical herbicides and pesticides, disposal of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, pollinator plants, just to name a few.
The more I’ve listened in on these conversations, the more I have realized just how important these types of conversations are. How we care for the earth goes beyond simply a stewardship issue (although this is very important to me). Caring about the physical world we live within is critical as it pertains to our personal health and wellness as well. Water, air and soil quality directly impact each of our lives on a daily basis.
Water. Did you know that at least 60% of the human body is made of water? A human can go without food for about three weeks but would typically only last three to four days without water. Every living cell in the body needs water. While we get some of this necessary water from food, the best source is drinking water. Unfortunately (for all of us) our water supply has been significantly compromised by human hands. In Iowa, for example, where agriculture is the dominant industry, we are especially connected to this water quality debate. Iowa has some of the richest farmland on the planet. Our state produces more corn than any other in the U.S. and our soybean yields are second (to Illinois). Yet, this production is not without consequence, specifically as it relates to the regular applications of nitrogen fertilizer. There are currently more than 200 community water systems in Iowa that are considered to have high nitrate levels, and Iowa is noted as the second largest contributor to the concentration of nitrates in the Gulf/Mississippi River Basin.
Thankfully there are solutions. The 2014 Nutrient Reduction Strategy revealed that nitrate runoff could be reduced by over 40% by applying fertilizer more sparingly and by using cover crops. However, there’s a downside—these practices are voluntary and very few Iowa farmers follow these recommendations. Why should they/we care? The EPA requires public utilities to deliver tap water with no more than 10 mg of nitrates per liter because water above this limit can inhibit the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen (blue baby syndrome in infants). Additionally, high nitrate levels have been connected to birth defects, cancers and thyroid problems. Interestingly, it is far less expensive to remove the problem at the source (the farmland) than it is to remove the problem in the water treatment facilities. It’s a health issue, an environmental issue and a financial issue. And it is something we should all be paying attention to.
So what can those of us who aren’t farmers and aren’t personally using fertilizer on ours lawns or gardens do? We all have opportunity to make an impact. For example, by supporting producers who are voluntarily following the practices recommended in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, we are making a difference. As consumers we have tremendous power in the marketplace, and paying attention to the seemingly small ways we can contribute is valuable. If you're interested in learning more about some of the local producers we support, stop in to Simply Nourished and we'd love to tell you more.
With Earth Day coming up this week, I thought it would be fun to share some of the other environmentally-friendly practices on our family's 2018 list:
Shop with reusable bags (our bags at Simply Nourished are biodegradable in case you’re wondering)
Choose to walk or bike instead of drive
Drink tap water in reusable bottles (we filter ours with an RO filter)
Reduce food waste by grocery shopping more frequently (our waste at the store goes to a local pig farmer)
Grow your own herbs
Compost your produce scraps and dry yard waste
Plant pollinator gardens
Add plant life to your home (to improve air quality)
Unplug chargers and turn off lights when not in use
Wash clothes on cold
Shop local farmer’s markets
Go paperless on bills/statements
Reuse scrap paper
Buy gently used instead of new if possible (I’m a big fan of secondhand shopping)
Use earth-friendly cleaners (or make your own natural cleaners)
Line dry your laundry (I wouldn’t recommend until we’re done having blizzards though ;))
Collect rainwater to water plants
Drink FTO coffee (we happen to sell some pretty tasty FTO coffees from Bootstrap Coffee)
Use cloth napkins instead of paper
Watch Food Matters on Netflix
And, if you don’t already have it on your calendar, mark this Thursday down to visit the Green Expo at the Surf Ballroom. Simply Nourished will be there sampling out product from our Lauryn’s Lunchbox menu and more! This free event runs from 4-7PM. Hope to see you there, and really hoping there’s some “green” to be seen on the ground that day.