The loss of habitat, climate change, monoculture, big agriculture and chemicals all have a devastating impact on our food system. But I want you to feel empowered, not overwhelmed and helpless, as we often feel when we hear the wickedly important news of what is happening to our planet.

Most of us want to do the right thing, but we don't trust that our small actions have any impact. Yet every mouthful of food we buy, cook and prepare can make an enormous difference to the planet.

For me, food is the obvious medium that we can all use to take action into our own hands. How we eat is our closest link to changing the world and the most effective way for each of us to shift to a new paradigm.

Global food issues, climate change, loss of pollinators, genetically modified foods - it can all be very confusing, even to someone like me immersed in it every day.

What do we do? How can we put theory into action when it comes to wanting to do the best for the future? What does it all mean when we head into the kitchen to make dinner?

I propose 10 simple ideas.
1. Understand that every time you eat you can make a difference for our planet.
2. Start cooking. It gives you a chance to think carefully about the ingredients you choose and gets you closer to the Earth.
3. Turn electronics off when you cook or eat. Everything - your phone, radio, TV. Get intimate with your food. Bring your attention to what you are eating.
4. Broaden your concept of local. There are meats, cheeses, oils, grains and beans right here in Minnesota along with our bountiful produce.
5. Plant a garden. The rows of carrots look a lot different when you are trying to grow them yourself. If you can't start a garden, get close to a farmer at farmers markets or join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm.
6. Be aware of packaging. Think about that giant island of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean next time you want to buy a bottle of water.
7. Look at your garbage. Be aware of what you are tossing out: reduce, reuse, recycle.
8. Cook with a kid. They love food and will give you a fresh perspective.
9. Don't use chemicals on your lawn or gardens. Honestly, the destruction they cause to the habitat for our pollinators and birds should make them illegal.
10. Learn the story of your food and don't believe the story of the food marketed to you. If we believe the TV ads about soft drinks, we would believe that drinking them represents a shining path to true happiness and youth. Learn about your food, then do what I like to call "buycott" the foods you don't support.

We need to lean forward to a new, overdue and necessary food ethic and paradigm, and that ethic I believe starts with each of us and the foods we choose.

Lucia Watson was founder and owner of Lucia's Restaurant in the Uptown area of Minneapolis for 30 years.

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