These philosophies are chosen for various reasons – they are believed to be the way humans naturally eat, they will leave the planet intact for our ancestors, they provide more ethical treatment for other people and creatures.
Sustainable, natural, organic – Earth-friendly and humanistic food choices
Organic plant foods do not contain pesticides, and organic animal foods are from animals which have been fed organically. Government standards for organic food vary by country. People may eat organic foods because they believe they are better for your health, or more natural, or more sustainable.
Some people try to eat as their ancestors did – examples include macrobiotic and paleolithic diets. Others generally try to avoid foods that are unnatural, such as artificial additives or highly processed foods.
Sustainability – farming and growing methods
Modern farming, growing, and catching methods are sometimes questioned. People may prefer organic foods for a number of reasons, as discussed above. Some people may prefer farmed fish because of issues with the overfishing of natural resources, while others may prefer wild fish because farming concentrates waste matter and involves unnatural feeding. Likewise, many people prefer grass-fed meat as a more natural way of eating which doesn’t involve feeding cattle with monoculture-grown grains, but others may argue that factory farms of animals are the only way to feed to world’s population as it grows and demands more meat if the alternative may be to chop down rainforests for grazing space.
Sustainability – shopping methods
Freegans try to gather as much of their food as possible from what they consider to be unnecessary waste – food retailers and food services throwing out foods in damaged packaging or close to their use-by dates.
There is a movement to be able to buy food without packaging – bring your own packaging (BYOP) or bring your own container (BYOC). This argues that packaging is wasted unnecessarily. The other side of this argument is that the containers brought for collecting food may not be sufficiently sanitary and may cause food-borne illnesses.
Sustainability (and health) – packaging methods
- Some foods have a lot of packaging, or packaging that is considered bad for the environment.
- Some people have concerns over the health impact of food packaging, such as BPA in water bottles.
- Plastics made from oil, packaging made from aluminum which is very energy-intensive to produce, and unrecyclable packaging are examples of packaging that may be avoided for environmental reasons – and if the packaging is avoided, so is the food inside it.
People who prefer local foods (locavores) argue that it’s a more natural way of eating, and also that the fuel costs are low so this method is more sustainable. They may disagree over whether local greenhouse-grown foods are more sustainable than long-distance outdoor-grown foods, depending on greenhouse energy usage and transport energy usage.
Other trends and philosophies
A certain proportion of our income is spent on food – in the USA it’s lower than in the past and lower than in most other parts of the world. Most people prefer to work within a fixed budget for food, so when food prices change they may change their food buying habits – as food prices rise, you may cut back on the foods that get more expensive.
Breatharian (also known as living on light)
Breatharianism argues that humans can survive on the energy from sunlight without eating any food or beverages.