What You Can Do


  • Week 4: Monday, April 21- Sunday, April 27

     Why It’s Important

    Food connects us daily to soil, water, plants and animals, farmers, ranchers and truckers, migrant farmworkers, and to those with whom we break bread. Food connects us to national farm policies and the health of rural communities here and across the world. Religious traditions recognize that in receiving food we are ultimately receiving a gift – the gift of a fertile Earth.

    Other than transportation choices, our daily food choices make up our largest environmental impact (i). In America today, the average food morsel travels about 1,500 miles to reach our plates (ii). Clearly, the choices we make about what we eat and where that food comes from has far reaching consequences.


    There are 4 sections below. See each section for specific instructions.
    Act – 10 possible points
    Learn – 15 possible points
    Advocate – 10 possible points
    Share – 5 possible points

     Act- 10 possible points

      Instructions: The Act weekly challenges are designed to be attainable. Pick 1 of the following 3 challenges this week.

    You decide how you want to achieve the challenge based on your values and what you want to try. You need to try something that will be new for you. Underneath each challenge we’ve listed actions you can take to earn your 10 points. You only need to do 1. (For example, if you pick ‘Eat more protein from plants’ as your challenge and you eat more beans this week, you’ll earn 10 points.) No additional points will be awarded for doing more because we want you to do one thing well.

    1. Eat more protein from plants.
    Eating less meat (especially red meat) and dairy products are generally considered two of the more important food-related actions you can take to decrease environmental impact). 

    Actions you can take: 

    • Eat more beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains at meals and snacks. Learn how much protein is in a serving of these foods in the Vegetarian Resource Group’s table of protein content in foods
    • Eat more vegetables at meals and snacks.
    • Make beef, pork, chicken and fish a side dish, not the main meal. 
    • When beef, pork, chicken and fish are the main entrée, eat 3-4 ounces at most- the same size as a deck of cards.
    • Eat sustainably raised beef, pork, and chicken. Learn how by reading the Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health.
    • Eat sustainably harvested fish. Learn which seafoods are sustainable and download the Seafood Watch Pocket Guide app to refer to when eating at a restaurant or shopping.

    2. Eat more local and seasonal produce.
    Eating locally grown produce tastes better because the food is fresh, in season, was picked ripe and travelled a short distance. Locally grown foods preserve green space and farmland, promote food safety, promote variety, create community and usually have less environmental impact.

    Actions you can take:

    • Eat fresh fruit and vegetables in season. Start with those grown in Washington State, and then those from the U.S. West Coast. Washington-grown fruit like apples and pears that have been in cold storage or home-canned are ok. Avoid produce transported from longer distances. Look at the produce sticker to learn where it was grown. 
    • Read the Eat Well Guide seasonal list of produce for each state. 
    • Read the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce and download the app to refer to when shopping.
    • Read about the environmental and social injustices of Florida farm workers growing tomatoes in the winter in this article Politics of the Plate: The Price of Tomatoes. Read what SU’s on-campus food service provider Bon Appetit is doing about this issue in the article Fair Food movement breaks ground in food service industry

     3. Eat more whole foods and reduce the quantity of processed foods.
    Eating whole foods means, for example, eating an apple and skinless chicken breast instead of apple juice and chicken nuggets. Whole foods have their fiber, vitamins, and minerals intact which contributes to a strong immune system and protects from cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Processed foods are low in fiber and nutrients; high in sugar, fructose corn syrup, trans fats and chemicals; are addictive and lead to overconsumption. Processed foods  also generate a significant amount of packaging waste.

    Actions you can take: 

    • Eat fresh fruit instead of purchasing bottled fruit juices or smoothies
    • Drink tap water instead of bottled beverages
    • Choose bulk nuts, seeds and dried fruit instead of an energy bar or candy bar
    • Start your day with steel cut or rolled oatmeal instead of quick oats, cold cereal, muffins or pastries
    • Try bread spread with nut butter or a bean spread instead of crackers, rice cakes, chips and pretzels
    • Eat brown rice instead of white
    • Use butter instead of margarine
    • Try out edamame beans or tempeh instead of tofu, textured vegetable protein (TVP) and imitation meats
    • Enjoy barley, millet, wheat berries, quinoa or amaranth grains instead of pasta
    • Buy fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned
    • Read the Good Food on a Tight Budget Shopping Guide
    • Read Dietary Guidelines from the Weston A. Price Foundation for Cooking and Eating Healthy, Delicious, Traditional Whole Foods
    • Take Food & Water Watch’s Foodopoly Quiz to learn who controls your food.

    - 15 possible points 

     Instructions: Attend 1 event to earn 10 points.

    •  Go to the event page to see what's happening this week. (Not all events will match this week's theme, but over the course of the month-long EcoChallenge, events will be offered related to each theme.)
     Instructions:  Watch 1 video to earn 5 points. 
    •  Video- What's Wrong with our Food System.  Watch 11-year-old Birke Baehr’s TEDtalk on why we need to eat local, sustainably grown food. 
    •  Video- The Meatrix I, II, or II 1/2.  In a parody of the movie The Matrix, this cartoon features a pig, a chicken and a cow as they expose the problems with factory farming while making the world safe for sustainable family farms. Watch any of the three Meatrix shorts.

     Advocate- 10 possible points

     Instructions: Pick 1 of the issues below and spend a few minutes this week learning about it and making your voice heard to earn 10 points.

    •  Support farmworker justice. Nearly all U.S. grown produce is hand- picked by seasonal farmworkers. Too many workers and their families live in poor housing, are exposed daily to pollutants and have no health insurance. They face dangerous workplace hazards including heat stress, fall hazards, and pesticides. Learn about these issues and how you can support the efforts of Farmworker Justice.

    •  Stop Dow Chemical’s ‘Agent Orange’ crops. Dow Chemical created the chemical defoliant Agent Orange used by the U.S. in the Vietnam war; the chemical caused lasting environmental damage and serious medical conditions in American veterans and the Vietnamese. Dow is currently pushing for an unprecedented government approval: genetically engineered (GE) versions of corn, soybeans and cotton that are designed to survive repeated dousing with 2,4-D, half of the highly toxic chemical mixture Agent Orange. The Center for Food Safety has a petition you can sign and send to President Obama.

    •  Don’t let Monsanto’s GMOs contaminate organics. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with biotech lobbyists to finalize a plan so Monsanto’s GMO crops can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers' crops at will. The USDA’s new plan could force these farmers to pay for crop “contamination” insurance to protect themselves against unwanted contamination by Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered genes. Food Democracy Now has a form you can fill out and send to Secretary Vilsack.

    •  Stop the new "free trade" agreement. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "free trade" agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries would give the President fast track authority for damaging trade deals. The deals will increase the flow of dangerous fish imports from Southeast Asia and lower our consumer product and food safety standards. Food & Water Watch has a form you can fill out and send to your legislator.

     Share- 5 possible points

     Instructions: Pick 1 of the following actions to earn 5 points.

    • Get together with your teammates for lunch, coffee, happy hour, a short walk around the block, etc. to share what you’ve learned with each other. Ideally it’s all 4 of you. Since your schedules may not align, you can still get 5 points if just 2 or 3 of you can get together.
    • Share one thing you’ve learned with a friend, family member or co-worker (cannot be a team member).
    • Share a photo of you and/or your team taking an action; or post something you’ve learned on the EcoChallenge Facebook page.


    Submit Your Scorecard

    Submit your Food scorecard by noon on Monday, April 28. 


     (i)The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, Union of Concerned Scientists, 1999.
    (ii) Worldwatch Institute,