Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's not easy being green...

So my latest read forces the question: How much can you know about the state of practices in our food industry and still blindly buy their products? The omnivore's dilemma- choosing what to eat- effects everyone, everyday. It used to be debating if a mushroom in the forest would be tasty or deadly, now it's deciding if a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch has any nutritional value whatsoever, or if the meat being sold to me is clean, and has been produced in a way that respects the rights not only of the animals, but of the workers. Knowing that the answer to both is no, moving forward becomes tricky, especially with my rather carnivorous husband, who feels that meat is a food that should be present at almost every meal.

For me, these concerns even color my choices from organic markets: organic and sustainable are not the same words, and though the chemical-free lettuce I'm buying shipped from California is better for me, its still at a cost to our environment.

Worse, there are organic farms that still cage up their birds, but feed them "organic" corn- no better than their non-organic peers.

Thus, I find myself a budding "locavore"- an eater of local, sustainably-produced foods from small farms. We certainly have enough of them in upstate NY- why should I be buying produce from 3 or 4 states over, when we are capable of growing the same food right here??

I went shopping today at the Union Square Farmers Market. I wasn't sure what I could find there in winter, but there was a nice selection of apples from NY state orchards, not to mention some mushrooms- baby bella, portobello- and a ton of root vegetables. Fingerling potatoes, red onions and shallots, butternut squash, beets- all still covered in dirt. Definitely plenty of fruit and veg to be had, and all fresh, and compared to what fresh direct or whole foods is whacking me, quite cheap. Two gala apples, not sprayed with fake wax to make them shine, two butternut squash, a handful of mushrooms, and a red onion for $5.70. Cost to the earth? Can't say exactly, but relatively small. No pesticides, no fertilizers, and the distance travelled was within the state, and in most cases, less than 50 miles.

I was thrilled to find cage-free organic eggs in my grocery store last night, but on the other hand, I caved and bought a lemon from california. I love lemons...and even though I've sworn off tomatoes, I bought some organic santa sweet grape tomatoes too, also flown from the southern states. Cost to the earth? Well It's not easy being green....

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