Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘sustainability’ Category

Fruits of Our Labor

Spring is nearly here and I’m encouraging you to think about where you’ll buy fresh fruits and vegetables this year.  With help from the Santa Fe Farmers Market, here are ten reasons to consider your local farmers market or food co-op:

♦ 1 – Local food tastes better.
Most likely it was picked in the last couple of days, which makes it crisp and flavorful. Produce that travels long distances (California, Florida, Chile or Holland) is days older.  Sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality and flavor.

♦ 2 – Local food is more nutritious.
Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients.  Produce that’s flash-frozen just after harvest is often more nutritious than “fresh” produce that’s on the supermarket shelf for a week.  Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.

3 – Local food preserves genetic diversity.
Large commercial farms grow a relatively small number of hybrid fruits and vegetables that are able to withstand the rigors of harvesting, packing, shipping and storage. This leaves little genetic diversity in the food supply.  By contrast, family farms grow a huge number of varieties to extend their growing season, provide eye-catching colors and great flavor. Many varieties are “heirlooms” passed down through the generations because of their excellent flavor.  Older varieties contain the genetic structure of hundreds or thousands of years of human selection and may provide the diversity needed to thrive in a changing climate.

4 – Local food promotes energy conservation.
The average distance our food travels is 1500 miles, mostly by air and truck, increasing our dependence on petroleum. By buying locally, you conserve the energy that’s used for transport.

5 – Local food supports local farmers.
The American family farmer is a vanishing breed – there are less than 1,000,000 people who claim farming as a primary occupation.  Why?  Maybe because it’s hard to make a living:  family farmers get less than 10 cents of every retail food dollar. By buying locally, the middleman disappears and the farmer gets full retail price, helping farmers continue to farm.

♦ 6 – Local food builds community.
By getting to know the farmers who grow your food, you build understanding, trust and a connection to your neighbors & your environment. The weather, the seasons and the science of growing food offer great lessons in nature and agriculture.  Visiting local farms with children and grandchildren brings that education and appreciation to the next generation.

7 – Local food preserves open space.
As you enjoy visits to the country to see lush fields of crops, meadows of wildflowers, picturesque barns and rolling pastures, remember that our treasured agricultural landscape survives only when farms are financially viable. By spending your money on locally grown food, you’re increasing the value of the land to the farmer and making development less likely.

8 – Local food keeps taxes in check.
For every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments spend $1.17 on services, which increases taxes. For every $1 in revenue raised by a farm, a forest or open space, governments spend $0.34 cents on services.

9 – Local food supports the environment and benefits wildlife.
Family farmers are good stewards of the land — they respect and value fertile soil and clean water.  And their farms provide the fields, meadows, forests, ponds and buildings that are the habitat for many beloved and important species of wildlife.

10 – Local food is about the future.
Supporting local farms today helps keep those farms in your community, ensuring your children and grandchildren have access to nourishing, flavorful and abundant food.  When you choose to buy locally, and make your choices known, you raise the consciousness of your family, friends and neighbors.

Read Full Post »

Beetle Parts

Did you ever cut your fingers or hands opening the hard plastic shell that surrounds newly purchased kids’ toys or electronic devices or… mixed salad greens?

I cut myself twice last week – once on a party tray and once on a package of cookies!  Cookies!  And I’m not the only one – a quick Google search on “dangerous plastic packaging” (!) turned up innumerable blog entries from others who’ve experienced the same indignation, plus a selection of “tools” for $10 – $15 that safely cut through the stuff (some ironically packaged in rigid plastic).

“Clamshell” or “blister” packaging is used by manufacturers as a theft deterrant,  a protective device and a means of making products look attractive to consumers.   On the flip side it’s a growing environmental disaster:  first, it’s made from petroleum and we all know the problems with that; second, the manufacturing process requires great quantities of water (it takes four bottles of water to create one bottle of water); and third, you may see the “chasing arrow” symbol on the packaging but much of it is unrecyclable, or is recycled into forms of plastic that aren’t recyclable and end up in landfills.

How do we deal with all of this frustration?  Here are a six ideas I found at lighterfootsteps.com:

♦  After you’ve stopped cursing and found a Band-Aid, look for customer contact info on the packaging and write or call the manufacturer.  Be polite and specific.  Explain why you won’t buy their product again, and if possible, the name of a competing product you will buy.  

♦ When you have a choice, buy the product with the least (or most environmentally-friendly) packaging.  Manufacturers pay close attention to packaging changes and resulting sales. 

♦ Recycle or creatively repurpose the plastics you buy.  (I reuse plastic trays to organize small tools in the garage.)

♦ Buy in bulk.  Warehouse stores manage costs by shrink-wrapping things together instead of selling separately packaged items.

♦ Buy unpackaged goods from food co-ops or local farmer’s markets.

♦ Blog about your experiences. If you don’t have a blog, send your story to OverPackaging.com.  

Read Full Post »