What's the jumbo problem with shrimp? Well, for starters, harvesting shrimp is phenomenally wasteful up to 10 pounds of fish are caught and destroyed for each pound of shrimp harvested. And other sea creatures, including thousands of dolphins, are killed in shrimp nets. Farm-raised shrimp aren't all guilt-free either; shrimp farms outside the U.S. are known for polluting their associated mangroves and estuaries.
If you crave shrimp without the suffering, look for U.S.-farmed shrimp or wild-caught spot prawns and pink shrimp.
We've heard of conflict diamonds, but what about conflict chocolate? In 2009, it was revealed that Nestle purchased milk from Gushungo Dairy Estate, a farm owned by Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabes wife. Nestle eventually ended its relationship with the farm, but it wasn't the first time Nestle had run into problems it was widely criticized for not divesting in South Africa during apartheid.
And Nestle's not alone. A 2007 report revealed that Africa's cocoa trade was bankrolling both sides of Cote d'Ivoire's bloody civil war. And the cocoa trade has also been accused of supporting forced child labor and trafficking.
The solution? Purchase fair-trade chocolates with the same decadent taste, and none of the drama.
Tuna is one of the most well-known offending industries. For years, the tuna industry used the practice of "dolphin circling" to catch tuna, resulting in the deaths of more than 100,000 dolphins each year. Since 1992 the several tuna-fishing countries including the U.S. and Mexico, have banned the practice. But wait! Tuna fishing remains harmful to other sea life, including sharks, rays and endangered sea turtles.
Why else is tuna tumultuous? It's a threat to itself: it's estimated that around 90% of the worlds tuna's stock has already been harvested. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas recently addressed the dwindling tuna population by lowering the number of catches allowed, but environmental critics say that's not enough.
And tuna's not the only fish to watch out for there's also Chilean sea bass, cod, flounder, and a host of other overfished fish to consider.
King Corn is bad for the environment because it requires so much land and energy to produce. The increase in corn harvesting has resulted in massive deforestation across the world. The widespread use of chemical fertilizer on corn fields in the U.S. has created a massive "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico a 7,900 square-mile area patch of water that is so oxygen-depleted that sea life cannot survive.
Try instead: organic sweet corn.
Slaughterhouses are among the most dangerous places to work, and activists have long-touted the horrors of cattle industry all the way back to muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair's 1906 expose, The Jungle. More recently the cattle industry came under fire in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, which admonishes the cattle industry for its unsafe and unsanitary practices.
And as if that wasn't bad enough, the cattle industry is an incredible energy and water suck it takes around 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. And the farming of animals accounts for 18% of all man-made greenhouse gases. That's even more than is produced by cars.
Bananas are bad? Really? Yes, really. While these tasty fruits are certainly nutritious, the banana industry has a long history of colonial exploitation. According to Dan Koeppels recent book Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World, banana growing corporation United Fruit (now Chiquita) basically controlled Central America's politics for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. More recently, Chiquita was in the hot seat for paying the Colombian terrorist group United Self-Defense Forces more than $1.7 million for protection between 1997 and 2004.
What's more, growing bananas is responsible for widespread deforestation in much of Latin America. And pesticides used to farm bananas have polluted the land and harmed plantation workers.
For better bananas, choose fair trade.