Michaeldgriffiths's Blog
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WildernessPunk: Getting Rude About Food

Looks like I took another mini break from WPing after my last camping adventure. What have I been doing besides bingeing on ‘True’ horror stories and proofing my newest novel which probably will never be published? After celebrating Patriot’s Day, I also hit one of the rare and lonely rivers which cuts through southern Arizona, the San Pedro. But enough about me, for I intend to finish something I have started. I hope my parents haven’t just fainted.

San Pedro log

What I’m talking about was addressing the list of the 6 things we can all accomplish, within our urban environments, which will help lower our Negative Environmental Impact (NEI).

Here’s a quick review of those six ideas

  • Minimizing Food Waste
  • Commuting by Bicycle, Walking, Buses
  • Use Energy Wisely such as high efficiency devices and keeping them unplugged
  • Consume less
  • Eating for a Climate Stable Planet
  • Recycle, Reduce, Reuse

And as at least three of you might know, number 1-4 have been covered bringing us to… Eating for a Climate Stable Planet. No, I’m not coming for your hamburger, but I do intend to toss some data out there. But before I do…

I’ve noticed some interesting things since I’ve begun to seriously investigate our NEI. (Some of you might want to stop reading now) Most of the people I associate with all claim to be environmentalists and interested in helping the environment. But despite their claims, they do little more than the average Trump supporter to accomplish anything to really reduce their NEI. Most people, recycle, have maybe one small pet project, post a few anti-pollution memes on Facebook and call it a done deal. Meanwhile, in this country, the average person pollutes about 200 times more a day than someone living in India. Think about it, chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re 200 times worse than someone living in a more traditional environment. If we went back 10,000 years your current lifestyle would be causing about 1000 times more damage than Rutroo the Barbarian.


I’m not demanding you change, but unless you’re living in a tent in Alaska, I think few are the Americans who can claim to be environmentalists. “Hello, I’m part of the worst polluters the world has ever seen, but I’m an environmentalist.”

Still, what are the, would be, heroes of the Earth to do?

I hope we wish to do more than admit we’re hypocrites and wander off mumbling.  Part of having to power to change is the knowledge of how things currently are and what could be done. This being said, let’s look at the environmental cost of what we eat. Buckle up people, because for most of us, this is going to hurt.

Many may remain unaware the consumption of food creates to highest NEI for humans. It beats out the resources we use for running a house and transportation. So if eating creates the highest impact on our environment, rethinking and adjusting our eating patterns might be the easiest way for each of us to lower our NEI, or is it?


Obviously the first, but perhaps not the easiest step, would be for as many humans as possible to become vegan or at least vegetarian. Yes, this would help, but it’s really not so simple. For instance the difference between low meat eaters and vegetarians is only a 12% drop. This is great and if everyone did this, terrific, but this still doesn’t address the remaining 50% NEI vegans create. Even the difference between a guy who eats a steak every night and a vegan is only double. It seems strange you have to change your whole life, and make things rather difficult for yourself in multiple ways, just to cut this in half and then be stuck. We just can’t lose this 50% best case scenario NEI creation… or can we?


So if we’re looking at a 50% NEI even if we’re trying our hardest with what we eat, lets looks at where this 50% comes from. It isn’t too complicated. Plants and meat cost energy and resources to produce. Then more to prepare and package. Then still even more to transport to our local store. Then a bit more to remain in a temperature controlled building until we purchase it. Still not done, even at our home we’re using energy to keep the refrigerator running and then cooking our yummies for consumption.

Since this is a lot to take in, I think we would be better tackling these one at a time. So here’s the list of


Food’s Baseline Negative Environmental Impact

  • Food Production
  • Food Preparation
  • Food Packaging
  • The Transportation of Food
  • Housing Food
  • Maintaining Food


Food Production:

We already know producing meat can up to double your NEI, depending on how much and what type you eat regularly. But whether you’re vegan or on the cowboy diet, this is still contributing to your food’s baseline NEI. Eating less meat will help this greatly but as previously stated the difference between a light meat eater and a vegetarian isn’t huge.

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Grow your own food, raise your own animals, and reuse grey water to do so whenever possible.
  2. Eat foods which require less resources and energy to produce.


Food Preparation:

Apparently this is considered part of the food production process, although producing food seems different than preparing it to come to us. Interesting to note, whether one’s vegan or on the Cowboy diet, this is one the highest producers of NEI through the food cycle, if you include huge amount of food waste which occurs as is mentioned in WildernessPunk: The Number One Thing.  https://bit.ly/2KVVHGQ

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Grow your own food, raise your own animals, and reuse grey water to do so whenever possible.
  2. Do not shy away from purchasing food which appears imperfect.


Food Packaging:

There is less data available in regards to what percent of a food production of NEI is creating by its packaging. One interesting trend appears to be the more (better) food is packaged, the less food is wasted. Still part of me wonders how our dystopian ancestors will feel while walking through fields of Styrofoam when they hear “They had to make everything as perfect as possible for three generations or so and placed Styrofoam under each piece of meat. This helped people live to an older age, so they could pollute even longer, now go eat the caterpillar paste out of the communal pot and remember to share your fork with the whole village.”

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Buy bulk when possible, but be sure not to do this if it creates food waste.
  2. Attempt to buy food with the least amount of packaging possible.
  3. Recycle, reduce, and reuse this packaging as much as possible.
  4. Buy unpackaged foods.


Transportation of Food:

This is where vegans create as much NEI as the biggest carnivore. It appears transporting food creates roughly 11% of its NEI and is in many ways what we might have the least control over, but let’s take a stab at it anyway.

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Grow your own food, raise your own animals, and reuse grey water to do so whenever possible.
  2. Research what types of food are produced near your area and try to eat these whenever possible.
  3. Buy food at local markets.
  4. Avoid exotic foods.


Storing Food:

This appears to be the smallest producer of NEI. Only 5% of the overall NEI is created by maintenance and storage.

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Use energy efficient transportation when buying food.
  2. Smaller more focused trips to the store help reduce food waste.
  3. Research which of your local stores are more eco-friendly.


Maintaining and Preparing Food:

The average citizen of the United States’ use of electricity makes up 14% of their NEI. Refrigerators make up only 8.8% of this. So roughly  1.2% of our yearly NEI is created from refrigerator use. Which is probably one of the most reasonable uses of energy in our country. This is only increased with the knowledge the best thing we can do to lower our NEI is to limit food waste. (See WildernessPunk Number One Thing) Also interesting to note our refrigerator use alone produces twice the NEI the average man in India creates with everything he does.

Cooking food creates slightly less NEI than refrigerator use and is easier for us to avoid by purchasing more food which doesn’t need to be cooked.

WildernessPunk Suggestions:

  1. Keep refrigerator on a higher temperature.
  2. Be efficient when removing items.
  3. Try to compost food which gets too old to eat or feed it to animals.
  4. Try to avoid buying more than you can eat before the food goes bad.
  5. In most cases, give the expiration date on food an extra week or two.
  6. Eat food which requires less energy to prepare.
  7. Recycle timesaving products which are big energy wasters.


Food Production is one of the hardest things for the average consumer to influence. Of course, limiting your meat intake is the best way to lower your contribution to our NEI. Producing as much or your own food as possible is also a strong play.

This may seem like a hard bunch of data to take in, but if we think of things as a national effort, we would start looking at huge improvements. If as a country, we could produce 20% less NEI the effects would be staggering. And as always keep in mind all these improvements, help the environment, our country, and our personal finances. We have nothing to lose but our NEI.

I think its time to wake up and get started.





You can check out some of my fiction here, where Dak has to decide between is lover and his job, but will either choice be able to save them both?


San Pedro north

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