August 27, 2008

Eating responsibly...I'm for it!

How do you feel about frilly toothpicks?

I try to eat with health, ecology and (personal) economics in mind. I do. I swear. I'm just not very good at it.

Alright, I'm just flat out lazy.

But I can appreciate articles like this one from Sustainablog. They're good peeps, even if some of them do run a little...well...green (even for me). I think one thing that many people miss when it comes to living a "greener" life, even if they do get the importance of it, is the simplicity of the thousands of everyday decisions you make, and their impact. That's where I think Sustainablog is strong, giving us simple (well, sometimes not so simple) measures that we have control over.

So back to food. Listen, I agree with JVK here that the key is to eat simply. Of course, I'll still resort to occasional fast-food and other prepped items. And who can live without the aged prime ribeye splurge every once in a while. Some of the points he makes are right on. Some do strike me as a little...misconstrued(?)...though.

"Choose organic. Although an organic label does not guarantee good farming or business practices by the company/producer, you can at least be sure that an organic product will have required less chemicals and toxins in order to go from field to table. Besides reducing pollution going into the biosphere, you also reduce pollution going into yourself with organic foods."

OK. In many instances, organic is probably better, especially if you're worried about hormones in your meat and dairy. Just be careful, as with anything, generalities can be deceiving. For example, "organic" pesticides might pack a little more punch than you expect. And just because it's organic does not mean it is not energy intensive. Besides, let's not forget that the "organic" label just confuses the issue with some foods (such as fish, which can only be certified organic if raised in a farm, being fed a strictly controlled, manufactured diet, and usually still receiving high doses of anti-biotic and anti-parasitic medications; thanks, but I'll pass).

"Buy local. Shipping foods across vast distances has tremendous costs for the environment–from fuels required by the vehicles (typically refrigerated) to pollution. You may love strawberries in January, but if you live in New York, they just are not sustainable! Buying local goods reduces the miles your food has to travel, plus it supports the local economy. Or if you cannot find local products, then at least try to choose domestic over imported–say, an apple from Washington instead of New Zealand."

Indeed. Buy local. Except when you shouldn't. This one can be really tricky. In general, the more local the better, so it's a pretty safe "rule" to go by. But you have to be careful. Subsidies, growing seasons, other climate and ecosystem influences can convolute an otherwise straightforward idea, depending on where you live and what you want. Sometimes (often?) imported goods carry a lighter carbon footprint (a term I hate and appreciate at the same time) than locally grown equivalents. Additionally, we may be entering a time of global food crisis...we may simply have no choice but to grow what grows where it grows and send it elsewhere. Hey, I'm a fan of buying in-season, local goods, but make sure you know what you're getting when you do.

His other suggestions, going vegetarian/vegan (or at least, more so), alternative foods, grow and prepare your own food, I like them all. Hey, it's a good discussion. One thing I would have liked to have seen is putting insects on the map...seriously. Honestly though, I found Lisa K's post about stealing the fruits of your neighbor's labor more practical, but hey.

Then there was this...

"Give thanks. Whether you say “grace” or simply pause to reflect on the things that make possible your act of eating, taking a moment to thank the Earth and its collaborators for the food nourishing you is a great way to cultivate respect for the planet and make eating holistically healthier. Food is a blessing, and blessing your food only increases your mindfulness of how all life is interconnected and interdependent."

Uhhh...whaaa? Well, whatever floats your boat.

Eating economically is easy. Eating healthy, safe and green is hard. It does take homework. There are no hardfast rules...yet...but there are plenty of resources out there. So take everything on a case by case basis. And don't be afraid to break your own rules once in a while. And in the case of food, you'll never get everything right...there is no do, only try.

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