News on climate change and species dying can be so discouraging. Since movie releases like An Inconvenient Truth, Food, Inc. and Fresh, many of us feel a personal duty to save the planet through individual actions. But you don't have to go as extreme as No Impact Man to make a difference! A great way and one of the most important is making sustainable food choices.
I invite you to revisit your grocery list and eating habits to lower your carbon footprint at the dinner table. If you’re skipping processed junk food packed in plastic bags for real food at the farmer’s market, you’re on the right track! Here’s more that can be done:
Eat what’s in your fridge and compost: Food that goes into landfills releases methane gas, one of the worst for global warming -- 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Did you know that in America we have so much excess food we dump about half of what’s produced in landfills? In just 2009, we threw away 34 million tons, and of all solid waste, food is the biggest contributor. So get cooking! And please compost spoiled food from your kitchen. You don’t need your own worm bin, just collect food scraps and demand composting in your city.
Join the locavore moment: Buy local above any other label or certification. Build a relationship with the people selling you food, and they become accountable to you, your community, and the planet. A farm near you may sell high quality produce but may not yet have finished the rigorous process in getting organic certification. As organic moves into the mainstream and stores like Walmart sell organic crackers, our relationship to our food source becomes more distant.
The Locavore movement goes beyond to establish healthy communities. Since 1994, more than 3,000 new farmer’s markets have sprung up across the nation. East and West coasters have their picks from various neighborhoods throughout the week.If you must have tomatoes in cold seasons, choose Eden canned tomatoes, which are BPA (toxin) free or, my favorite: rehydrate sun-dried tomatoes. Check out this seasonal food guide here.
Remember food miles: Gas prices might remind you of the cost associated with transporting groceries to your local supermarket. Avoid air freighted food as much as possible to reduce CO2 emissions. This includes the transport of tropical fruit. If you love your bananas, for example, like I do, support Earth Farm at Whole Foods, or at least buy non-sprayed organic ones. Develop a walking and biking lifestyle to make up the difference in your carbon footprint.