I’ve learned that Earth Day (April 22) is a big deal at my daughter’s elementary school. Now whenever she sees trash on the ground, she reminds me, “That’s not good for the Earth.”

We’re all looking for easy ways to be kind to our planet. Right now, I’m drinking iced coffee from a reusable straw.

But let’s get real: Skipping a plastic straw won’t offset the environmental impact of my 30-minute commute (although I do choose cheaper, clean-burning E15 ethanol to fuel my car).

Despite what advertisers want us to believe, there’s no quick fix to reach our environmental goals. We can’t shop our way to a better planet.

However, activists still claim that eating less meat can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Beef, in particular, gets singled out because cows emit methane.

But here’s the truth: Beef cattle only account for 2% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Meanwhile, our transportation system, including cars and planes, is responsible for over 28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Even extreme dietary changes, like going vegan, won’t have much impact on climate change.

Research shows that removing all livestock and poultry from the U.S. food system would only reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by a tiny 0.37%. Plus, our diets would lack essential nutrients.

You don’t have to change your diet or miss out on the nutritional benefits of real beef to reduce your environmental impact.

Explore the EPA’s household carbon footprint calculator for practical ideas on cutting your emissions.

Iowa farmers are also doing their part to take on the challenge of protecting Iowa’s natural resources and improving water quality.

Iowa leads the nation in several agricultural conservation practices, including water quality wetlands, grassed waterways, filter and buffer strips, pollinator habitat and conservation tillage.

To learn more about Iowa’s conservation progress, visit ConservationCountsIowa.com.

Enjoy the warmer weather!

Teresa Bjork
Editor, The Iowa Dish

Return to The Iowa Dish