We’ve heard oh so often, how we must curb our release of carbon into the atmosphere. Covid has shown us that our emissions are huge, even if planes were mostly grounded and we travelled less. The initial reaction to this is fatalism: Global Warming is unstoppable.
Are we doomed? Westerners would disagree. Europe is in a good position to survive the coming disasters. But if you’ve ever been outside in the past few weeks, this heat is exactly what such fatalism brought about. Doing nothing is accepting the status quo, accepting increasing heat over the next years and decades, displaying a profound lack of understanding to what such heat means on the societal level.
Most carbon emitted comes from multinational corporations transporting goods around the world, not from individuals, goes the argument. It is up to them to make the difference. Individuals cannot bring about change in the world, and thus, we should simply give up, or at least do what makes us feel better about the impending doom.
But corporations are fueled by people, which means that if people were to refuse to buy goods from halfway around the world, we could make a big dent in the carbon release of the transportation market. Because of the distances these things travel, transporting clothes from South East Asia can be worse than eating half a kilo worth of beef, locally produced.
“But we can’t live without clothes”. Yes, that’s true. But the most significant good to be transported around the world is not cloth, but food. Fruits, grain, even meat is transported across continents, with shipping freights powered by gasoline. Most of the weight transported isn’t even the goods, but the ship itself. It turns out, a lot of the carbon released during the Covid lockdowns came from such ships.
This means that eating locally, regardless of what it is we eat, releases less carbon than eating any foods from far away. Mangoes, Bananas, and many other fruits come from these far away places, which means that fruit, as innocent as it may be, releases immense amounts of carbon, across the whole supply chain. And don’t even get me started on my anger at Fiji water.
But that aside. How to convince oneself to actually implant such a deep understanding within one’s self? How does one lose interest in cheeses, coffee, fruits?
If one day, you go to the bank, and find out that someone kept stealing 1 franc, 10 francs from your account every now and then, adding up to several hundred, you’d probably be angry. If the companies making vitamin tablets just one day told you that they simply marketed the tablets as having positive health effects in order to sell you these things, you’d probably also be angry. After all, you’ve been betrayed! How dare they use false advertising. Never again, would you be betrayed in such a way, and choose a different bank, or drop any supplements.
What if I told you, you might be being exploited, right now, in a similar fashion? That is, the things you desire are not actually beneficial in the way you think? I am not even talking about capitalism, and how we all somehow got sucked into such an exploitative economic model. There are more pesky ways in which your mind and body have been hijacked.
American food corporations have exploited this method to the extreme already, but the problem goes beyond the US: Any, but especially added sugars, activate the same neural pathways that cocaine does. The powers that be have injected sugars into our foods, so that we become dependent on them to keep our sanity.
You don’t believe me? Simply try to stop eating any foods with added sugars and refuse any and all fruits for 1 week, 2 weeks, a month. No sweets, no chocolate. No mangoes, no strawberries, no yogurts, no cakes, no muffins, (no tomatoes?!) no crème brûlée. No milk: You’d be surprised how sugary it really is.
You can do it, no? Try it: If you can pass the addiction test, no harm done. You lived a little healthier for a couple of weeks, possibly felt more energized during this time. But if you can’t… then you know that you have fallen victim to your own desires. You’ve been betrayed by the foods you’re convinced you need, foods you genuinely feel convinced that they are necessary for your health. Fact is, they aren’t. It is by realizing this creepy fact, that you have the chance to improve yourself, and begin down-cycling addictive behaviours.
Another point: try to stop eating cheese. Cheeses have the addictive chemical known as casein, which causes similar addiction effects. Seems impossible, no? But note that your body doesn’t actually need cheese or dairy to survive. A little meat perhaps, but the amount of dairy we consume today is way, way above what we need. Milk and cheeses are, in effect, only consumed by baby mammals.
Once you realize that our cravings are not our bodies telling us what we need, but our addicted brains tricking us into believing that we need superfluous foods, one might feel a natural need to regain power over one’s own body, in a similar way that the combatants of any fight over bodily autonomy feel.
This, I believe, is where we can start to eat sustainably: Realize that we have become addicts to sugars, caffeine and casein, those addictions which are blocking us from thinking clearer, speaking better, running faster, and finally, living better.
Try going without sugar for a while. I dare you.