Friday, August 14, 2009
A sustainable diet and asteya
The key reason why I eat locally is because it is a giant step towards sustainability. Sustainability is when your way of living can go on indefinitely within the bounds of asteya. I believe that at the root of asteya lies a prerequisite that requires us to be honest about our true needs and intentions. How much food can I consume without going over my allotment? The numbers are in: each person is allotted 1 ton of CO2 output, needs to survive on 1.16 acres, and not increase the world population. (Meaning a one child per person limit should be respected; that's two kids for two parents.) A ton of CO2 isn't all that tangible, but an acre is. One acre is 43560 square feet. This amount of space includes not only your living space, but also the amount of land needed to produce everything that you eat, wear, or otherwise consume. I can have more to eat when farmers plant diverse crops rather than monoculture and when I choose to eat more plants than animal products. If it takes too much CO2 output for the food to get to me, I'll be pushed over the 1 ton limit. If you need more land or CO2 output than this for you and everything you consume, you need to be mindful of the fact that you are A) pushing environmental crisis on us and future generations and B) stealing someone else's food. Yes, all of the hungry in this world are suffering because the lucky ones are using up their portion of farmland for housing developments and our "need" to eat from the large-scale food system. Those that somehow achieve living within their means, CO2 output and land-use included, will reap the benefits. Yoga Sutra II.37 says, "When abstention from stealing is firmly established, precious jewels come."