In honour of Earth Day I have been thinking of different ways to bring green consciousness into daily habits. Recycle, compost, travel mugs, water bottle, and so on – but what about food consumption?
Brendan Brazier wrote a book called Whole Foods To Thrive: Nutrient-Dense, Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health which looks not only at nutrition but also the environmental impact of our daily dietary choices. Before reading this book I really had little perception of the environmental damage caused by our food systems. Many of his statistics had me gasping. Between processes of production, transportation and merchandising we see unbelievably high volumes of water and fuel used – not to mention emissions given off by related industrial processes. Brazier argues that production of plants and grains is far more sustainable than our current systems for producing meat and dairy. ~Emphasizing plant-based diets as a choice for your health and your planet.
With meat, dairy and processed food already aside – I decided to look closer at the travel history of my veggies and fruit. Of course avocados (a daily indulgence) are grown in warmer climates and have to make a lengthy journey to arrive at my plate. Same story with those delicious autalfo mangoes and organic bananas. At first I considered cutting back on these, but after some thought it made more sense to shift my focus to finding more local produce to compliment consumption of imports. Plus the more local products we buy, the higher the demand and eventually the lower the price… right? (Econ was never my strong subject).
It is funny how something becomes extremely obvious once you make a mental note of it. Marketing and merchandising for local produce has been catching my eye all over town these last few weeks. With the change in season Victoria is seeing plenty of local greens including kale, sprouts and arugula. Maybe I am dreaming but I swear they taste better. In most cases locally grown foods are more organic and therefore nutrient-dense, because harsh chemicals are not needed to preserve the produce on its journey to your plate. Plus when you buy local you have the opportunity to visit the farm for yourself to see what’s up!
The other bonus to supporting local produce is that you inadvertently end up supporting the local businesses and farmers who are providing such food. Where you choose to spend your money can then really impact your local economy and therefore your community. With that I am happy to splurge a little bit more for local, because the ripple effect will bring more benefits in the long run.
Here are a few links to some recently discovered favourite shopping spots of mine. If you are outside of Victoria ask your local grocer, search online for local food blogs and take a look at sites such as www.localharvest.org. Your local food options will of course be very specific to the geographic region in which you are located… I’m a little jealous of anyone in California.
Ingredients Health Food & Apple Cafe ~ Located at Store St. and Discovery. This store has all of your specialty health foods, local produce AND a huge section of bulk goods (spices, grains, soaps & tea). I met with a friend for treats from the cafe, which has plenty of whole ingredient options – most gluten-free and/or vegan. Shopping here becomes a unique experience. Hours are Mon-Sat 9:30 to 6:30 and Sunday 10 to 5.
Aubergine Specialty Foods ~ Located on Gladstone Ave in Fernwood. This small specialty shop brings in available local produce several times per week. It is easy to connect with the owner and ask questions about when the produce arrived and which farms he is buying from. You will find plenty of local greens from the Saanich Peninsula including kale. They are open Mon-Sat 9:30 to 7 and Sunday 10 to 6.
With summer around the corner I am especially excited to start making use of weekend farmers markets. The large market environment has to be one of the things I miss most about Montreal and Toronto.
The next sustainable step would be to grow the food, but I’ll save that one for a future post.
Live with intention to buy green and support your community,
Until next week,