The Agricultural Over-consumption (Bonnie Ack – Endorphin CrossFit)

Bonnie Ack is a good friend of mine who I met a few years back during a clown bar crawl that I put together in Morristown, NJ. This bar crawl was the shit btw…

Her husband Ian and she own Endorphin CrossFit  in Bridgewater, NJ. I asked a few people I know to write some guest posts about health. She quickly chimed in on a piece expressing views on our over-consumption and waste of agriculture.

Below you will find out her 2 cents…

As a Paleo Enthusiast, you likely buy some organic fruits and vegetables, farm fresh cage free omega 3 brown eggs, hormone free grass fed beef, and shun the idea of eating bread. For the hardcore, you may even seek out fair trade coffee and join a local CSA. But even as a Paleo Enthusiast, your knowledge of “agriculture” probably stops there. How often do you stop to think about the clothes you’re wearing? Or the environmentally friendly “FlexFuel” vehicle you bought that runs on an ethanol (read: corn) blended fuel? I’d put $20 down that you never thought about the agave grown to distill your oh-so-paleo Tequila and Soda. In plain English, agricultural products have found their way into all aspects of your life. Agriculture, as defined as “the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi, and other life forms for food, fiber, biofuel, medicinal and other products used to sustain and enhance human life” (Wikipedia), deserves some attention. It matters for our environment, our economy, and living sustainably.

The environment is an obvious reason as to why agriculture matters. Animals, plants, and fungi are all grown/raised using resources. Resources come from the environment. Important reality- it takes a lot to grow a lot.  Sure, there are economies of scale, when it becomes cheaper to grow (x) amount of crops on (y) amount of acres, and ideally we want the highest crop yield we can manage. Or do we? Do we really need (y) amount of acres, or are we just producing excess? With the amount of starving populations around the world (even in our own backyard) it is hard to imagine we are producing excess, but the problem is generally ACCESS to the food/fiber/biofuel/medicines, not that they aren’t available. Furthermore, we’ve become a world of excess consumption. Do you really NEED that cute sundress, or extra tray of chicken wings for the boys on fight night?

Which brings me to another point: It costs a lot to grow a lot. And a third, while I’m at it: It costs a lot to consume a lot. Generally speaking, we want everything for nothing. We will lie, cheat, and steal to get as much as we can for as little as we can. Maybe now you’re a bit better about paying a premium for whole foods, but I bet you tried to buy that leather belt on sale. The more products we grow, the more resources we use, whether it is land, labor, chemicals, fertilizers, water… Oh, forgot water was used to grow things? I hope not, California. As more products are used, it costs more to get them where they are going (read: transportation). It costs more to display and sell them (read: retail stores). It costs us more to buy them (read: unnecessary over consumption). All while we are demanding lower prices! And since the retail store won’t build itself for free, and the trucks won’t bring it across the country out of the good of their own heart (minimum wage, anyone?), we force the producers of these agricultural products to sell them CHEAP. How do they survive? Subsidies. READ: HIGHER TAXES. Woah, this manure pile just got deep.

Combine the affects agriculture has on the environment plus the affects on the economy, and we’ve created a pretty unsustainable situation. Now I’m not here to push you to grow your own food in your backyard, cowshare, spin wool, or anything super archaic (unless you are #hardcorepaleo), but I am here to ask you to think a little more about what you’re consuming. Is it necessary? Why do you need it for a lower price? Do you need that much..?

Start to think about how your purchases and lifestyle are affecting our collective resources. Pay a little bit more for higher quality products raised sustainability, limit those overall purchases, and save in the long run.

You can visit Bonnie at her Crossfit (www.endorphincrossfit.com) in Middlesex, NJ

Follow her on Instagram – @shakemybonbon

  • Patrick Gardner
    • doyleRiot

      Ugh, there’s so many words in that pdf Patrick.

  • Patrick Gardner

    The key sentence – “Livestock and their byproducts actually account
    for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent
    of annual worldwide GHG emissions.” Hopefully that’s not too many words…

    • Bonnie Ack

      Curious about the pdf- are you citing as a support of, debate to, or all together separate topic?

      I agree about the emissions, which goes to the point of overconsumption. However I’d caution the uneducated reader to think that meat is the devil. There are many many factors that go into food production, both plant matter and animal matter.

      • Patrick Gardner

        Ah, probably too large of an issue to hash out in a comments section, but i guess I would cite it as an all together separate topic/debate. I think almost each sentence you wrote could be developed into a whole separate blog post, but I would say that agriculture has always been a part of life since humans were around.

        I wouldn’t necessarily say meat is the devil, but I would say taking meat (or animal products entirely) out of your diet is healthier for both humans and the environment. If it’s grain-fed livestock, we’re wasting a significant amount of land growing feed crops (corn and soy are our country’s number one crop and more than 80% of it goes to feeding cows, pigs, and chickens). If it’s grass-fed livestock, we’re wasting a significant amount of land and/or clearing forest for pasture. This could be used to grow healthier food using less resources. When you look at the amount of energy and land required to sustain livestock PLUS the long-term health impacts of eating meat, regardless of whether it’s grass-fed, organic, etc., it’s clear. From a human health perspective, I think the best route would be eating a whole foods diet from local sustainable sources, minimally processed foods, and no animal products – but that’s just my opinion and would also note that such a diet is damn near impossible and generates a whole other slew of questions. For example, which is worse, an organic pesticide-free tomato transported from across the country or a GMO tomato grown down the street on a farm using pesticides? As for the other aspects of agriculture, e.g. clothing, biomedical, that’s a whole other issue. I would say that almost all of them (like most other issues in our country), involve corrupt politics and money…

        Sorry for the rant.

        • Bonnie Ack

          Part of the idea of my original post was that everything could be broken out into an individual topic. Which is most certainly something I am planning to do.
          As far as the vegetarian vs omniovre diet, I certainly would not say that you’re totally wrong, more so uninformed. As far as human health is concerned, animal proteins are essential. And as far as environmental health, animals are an intrgral part of the ecosystem.
          I don’t spend a ton of time on the computer so obviously that is all uncited, but I’d encourage you to look up Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms (http://www.polyfacefarms.com). Our current agriculture system is broken, but he offers a solution beyond agreeable to most.

          • Patrick Gardner

            I don’t spend much time on the computer either, and actually spend most of day outside either in streams or on farms, and I would again disagree that animal proteins are not essential for human health. There are millions of people living on an animal-free diet, including countless professional athletes in many different sports that have an animal-free diet. They get their protein from plants (like all animals) while also avoiding the saturated fats, casein, whey, etc. that can lead to heart disease and other illnesses. Further, I would argue, and there are many studies to support that there is a direct link between the consumption of animal products and heart disease, cancer, etc. I would also add that the United States consumes more pounds of meat per capita than any other country and heart disease is the leading cause of death here. Granted there are several other factors and behaviors that lead to heart disease, e.g. lack of exercise, genetics, etc., but I believe, and studies support, that the more meat you eat, the more your chances increase. I would agree that animals are an integral part of any ecosystem, but the domestication of livestock for human consumption is not part of any ecosystem and if anything, consuming meat and other animal products has negative impacts on the environment. The originally cited article outlines why – if taking everything into consideration, livestock accounts for more than half of all the GHG emissions through clearing of land, transporting, resources/energy required to raise.

          • Patrick Gardner

            I should correct myself that not ALL animals get ALL their protein from plants. Also, I look forward to the breakout of these issues in future posts!

          • Bonnie Ack

            Very true! But you’re absolutely correct that most animals Americans eat get their proteins from commercially produced crops, which I don’t inherently support. We certainly have some fundamental differences in opinions as far as human health and animal proteins, and I’d love to share some resources with you to show you why I support a diet including them. Also why dietary cholesterol has little to do with your cholesterol levels, and much more to do with the amount of inflammation in your diet (generally due to over-consumption of refined grains and sugars). Off the top of my head I suggest looking up Dr. Terry Wahls, Dr. Sara Gottfried, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Kirk Parsley to start off with some professionals.

          • Patrick Gardner

            Well as long as we can agree on some things, I think that’s enough worth celebrating and I’d love to delve into the discussion deeper but perhaps off this comment board where we can get a little deeper. Plus, I’m tired of seeing Doyle’s face all over the place! 😛

          • Bonnie Ack

            Agreed! Mike, we love ya, but I’m quite happy with the way I look. Just sayin.

  • doyleRiot

    All rants are welcomed! Also, why does everyone in this post have my face?

    • Patrick Gardner

      I don’t know, but it looks like you are having an interesting inner dialogue…