Posts Tagged ‘food sustainability’

Buying Green?

I know the market today has thousands of items on the shelf that claim to be environmentally responsible. Words like “organic” , “fair trade”, ” natural”, “sustainable”and “good for the earth” even “good ecology” and you know that it also means good profit margin.  It is true that most organic or fairly traded products cost significantly more then the conventional alternatives, are organic products superior?

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Yes organic food is grown without pesticides, with the environment in mind. Typically an organic yield will be smaller then a conventional one, it is more labour intensive to farm and harvest, and therefore more expensive at the grocery store.

Fair traded products are just that, traded or bought in an environment that pays a decent wage to the producers, coffee and chocolate are two products that have flourished under the name of  “Fair Trade” but what is the hidden environmental cost of these and many organic products.

They may well be “certified organic” but if a product travelled from Chile in February, how “environmental” or “sustainable” is it?

What is the answer? To buy local, in season, at farmers markets.  What about that 100 mile diet, to live on things that are grown within 100 miles of where you live.  What if there is very little grown in that radius? What if where you live has a very short growing season? What about during the winter? In generations past people, (women traditionally) would can and pickle, preserve and store food for the winter. This is not a lost art, but a lot more work and planning is required! We have gotten into the habit of just running over to the local grocery chain and picking up what ever your hearts desire, almost any time of year. Convenient yes, is this progress though? Is this sustainable or good for the planet?

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I live in a big city, weekly heavy trucks barrel down the alley toward the Safeway loading docks. Bringing the cache of treasures for you and me. Pineapple in January, okay, strawberries in February, no problem, fresh produce year round is what sophisticated consumers demand and that is what Safeway, and everyone else who is in the grocery business supply.

The fact that the ground is frozen and buried under four feet of snow does not faze us as we dive into the delicious “fresh fruit” grown thousands of miles away,  sometimes travelling further then most of the people who will eventually consume it, ever have.

Is the answer to only consume local food, well maybe if the choice is between local and organic that has trekked hundreds of miles, then is the conventional choice is better for the environment?  Should we not buy the raspberries or mangoes in the depths of winter? That choice is of course up to you. If consumers demand it, then it will supplied. If people decided to really make sustainable choices they need to look at all the factors, conventional or organic? local or from another continent?

It’s up to me and it’s up to you.

URBNgreen is committed to education and environmental stewardship. Our objective is share information about what people are doing locally and around the world to create a sustainable future.
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