Saturday, January 26, 2008

Be Aware of Your Food Choices

This post was inspired by the “Faraway Food Production” post below that brings up the issue of how energy intensive our dinners are. I wanted to revisit this point and provide some resources that would help anyone who was interested make more sustainable food choices.
I’m sure everybody has been in the flagship Whole Foods downtown. The variety of foods in there is mind-blowing! You can get tasty tropical fruits year round! Cool right? No, actually it’s pretty hypocritical that Whole Foods claims to be so environmentally friendly but then still ships foods from around the globe year round. Want mangos in Iowa in winter? You can get them!! As a rich country we are so accustomed to this that we don’t think twice. But the reality is that it isn’t sustainable. The earth cannot support providing this service to anybody but the richest. Can it realistically support it at all? Fields in South America that could be used to feed (or power) the local population, are set aside so that we can dip strawberries into chocolate on New Years Day.
I’m not saying I haven’t taken advantage of this luxury, or that you are evil and selfish if you do. Our society is set up that way. I just want people to think twice, and be aware of what their choices mean, and to support businesses that are making an effort to change!
Wheatsville Co-op on Guadalupe and ~32nd actually labels locally grown food and tells you how far the food traveled to get to the store.
The Edible Austin website provides lists of locally grown food vendors and will also tell you what fruits and vegetables are in season here in central Texas! This doesn’t mean that if you buy it at the grocery store you are necessarily getting a local product, but it can help guide you.
Boggy Creek Farm is an organic farm located in east Austin that sells food year round at both the Austin Farmers Market (sets up year round on Saturday mornings at Guadalupe and 4th street) and at it’s site. These sites are not limited to just vegetables. You can also get a variety of meats from local farms, eggs, cheeses and other products.
As students, it’s too expensive to fully support ourselves on the often unfortunately more expensive organic and local food choices. But, it is possible to support the “buy local” effort! And as gas prices rise, the cost margins should decrease.
I’ve even seen labels in HEB that indicate locally grown food. So keep your eyes open, and think about what you are purchasing. Be aware and don’t take it for granted. That’s all I ask!
And don’t forget to take your reusable grocery bags. But be aware that a LOT more energy and materials went into making them than plastic bags and so you have to use them a lot to make them more energy efficient.

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