Happy Earth Day! Usually on Earth Day, people plant trees, remember to take out their recycling bin or make party hats out of old cereal boxes. We usually do things that observe the day but are short lived and sometimes a bit nonsensical. This year in observation of Earth Day, I have decided to take two steps that will change my behavior; efforts that go beyond a single day. I want to use Earth Day to observe the ways I can make a long term effort, to sustain this beautiful rock of ours.
This first step might be a bit tricky and will take some time to adjust; as like all Millennials, I have lived in a world where things were at my disposal . But I have decided to make an effort to eat seasonably. Which involves me making meals that contain seasonal fruits, vegetables and meats.
This is not something new. Many people have realized, that once, not very long ago; we all ate seasonably. But pretty recently in our history, stores began to provide food that was not in season. In efforts to keep and increase the amount of business in their stores. The more the markets offered, year round, the more customers they would have. But when we eat food that is not in season, most likely we are eating food that has traveled hundreds, if not, thousands of miles to our plates. The distance this food travels, leaves a huge carbon footprint through the carbon emissions of the planes, trains and trucks used to delivery them.
Eating seasonably means you are most likely eating locally. Most markets will buy seasonal produce from farmers in state or nearby; cutting down the travel of the produce. Thus limiting the carbon footprint of your food.
Many people have made the decision to eat seasonably, there are several sites that provide information on seasonal produce in your particular. I like Sustainable Table’s Seasonal Food Guide. This site provides a list of the seasonal produce and meat in your area; you choose your state and time of year. It also conveniently gives you some recipes for those items.
I am looking forward to this adjustment in my eating habits, it will help me learn to create healthier meals. I will also be able to learn to prep for future non-seasonal meal, by precooking, cutting and freezing produce I will want in the future. This gives me a sense of nostalgic ownership over my life.
Eating seasonably, tells the markets that customers are limiting the food they purchase out of season. This makes them take notice and think about limiting the purchase of non-seasonal produce. Markets only sell what customers will buy. If there is a lower demand for non-seasonal produce, markets will limit their purchase and in turn limit the carbon emissions created to deliver non-seasonal produce to their stores. To learn more about our food and it’s travel to our plates, I highly recommend Food, Inc. (2008).
My second step in the observation of Earth Day, is driven by the same rationale of my first step. This year, when planting my spring patio garden, I will be purchasing from my local plant nursery.
In recent years, small nurseries have been dying at the hands of big box stores. Plant nurseries are our neighbors and they have been losing our business to large corporations, with the convenience of buying the latest season of Dr. Who DVD with my carrots seeds. Big box stores sell plants and flowers not grow in our own neighborhoods. To support my local economy and lower carbon emissions, this year, I will be finding a local nursery to make my spring planting purchase. Find out more about the decline of the nursery industry at Marketplace.org.
There is so much happening on this little rock of our; sometimes it feels impossible to make any difference. But remember, it is Mother Nature’s special day and she doesn’t care about the price or size of your gift; it is the thought that counts! Happy Earth Day to you and yours!