Are your food choices contributing to a healthful lifestyle for you and the environment?

Most people purchase groceries from their local grocery store or supermarket, which today offers a wide selection of processed, commercial foods and possibly a section of organic or natural foods. To keep a wide selection of fruits and vegetables available to the public, produce is imported from other states or countries and kept as fresh and “presentable” as possible through a variety of commercial methods, such as chemical additives, refrigeration, or early picking. To keep up with the demand for meat and eggs, your protein selections have also been commercialized so that shelves can stay stocked.

Are your food choices contributing to a healthful lifestyle for you and the environment? Does how the food is produced influence your food choices? This week’s Application asks you to examine how some foods are produced, and how those choices may or may not impact the health of individuals and of the Earth.

Questions about this assignment? Post them in the Ask the Instructor area. That way, everyone in the class will see, and benefit from, the instructor’s response.

To prepare for this Application:

Review the Organic Trade Association’s recommendations on allowable materials for use by organic farmers, organic livestock producers, and organic processors. See this week’s Learning Resources for the link.

Consider the impact that chemical fertilizers, often used in produce production, have on human health as well as on the environment.

Reflect on the potential impact of growth hormones or antibiotics used on animals that are a food source for you.

The assignment:

Select one protein item and one produce item from the following table:






























Using sources on the Internet, research the different methods of commercial and natural/organic production for the protein and produce items you selected. Identify the chemicals, processes, and natural resources used to produce these foods and bring them to the market.

Compose a 2-page essay in which you do the following:

Summarize your findings for the commercial and natural/organic production of the protein and produce item you chose to research.

Based on your findings, compare the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides with the use of natural methods of production. Analyze the impact each of these methods may have on human nutrition, human health, and the environment.

Conclude with a reflection on what changes you might reasonably make when buying food at the store after this research. If you decide not to change anything, what are the driving factors that influenced your decision?

Web Sites and Web Articles

New York City Department of City Planning

This site will be used in this week’s Discussion.

Los Angeles Department of City Planning

This site will be used in this week’s Discussion.

Organic Trade Association

This site contains information regarding organic standards.

This site will be used in this week’s Application.

Natural Resources Conservation Service: A Soil Profile

Sierra Club: Stopping Sprawl

Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Click on the FAO Hunger Map link to learn how various countries are faring in the fight against hunger; then click on the Food Security Statistics link.


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