So I have been on a documentary kick, thus the title of this post. These are the documentaries I have watched these past few days, now I am going to say I watched them because I was "researching" for the betterment of my life and, ahem: this blog. In reality I watched them because I didn't want to do my homework.
What have I gathered from my docu week? That I should be vegan. Pretty straight and simple, there really is not another way to be a so called environmental chica without going vegan; but on a budget this would be tough. Impossible- no, but with my lifestyle, schedule, and money I can not do it all. I am embarking on this project to be better while still maintaining sanity, health, and a bank account. Speaking to another vegan student I mentioned my concerns and she pointed out that there are fairly cheap produce items at Aldi, and other chain grocery stores. I am sure this is true, but I don't want to be buying produce picked by workers with next to nothing pay, sprayed with chemicals, and shipped thousands of miles to be packaged and sold to me, that seems to go against this environmental thing too. So what to do? Go semi vegan for now aka continue my vegetarianism and be conscious of the products I buy, and maybe down the road look into a full vegan diet.
So phase one of my sustainable living: food. Food, what we eat, how we eat, and why we have destroyed the planet with our current agricultural system. I have a lot to learn so I started with some documentaries and the diagnosis is dismal. BUT we can change! And first and foremost I can change. So what am I changing? First off, how I shop and where I shop for my food. Buying locally not only helps support the local economy but it also is better environmentally because we aren't burning fuel to package, and ship what we have right here. Now if I am craving a strawberry, will I find one shopping locally: no, of course not because strawberries aren't in season and as I am sure you have noticed we have had quite the drought this summer. Maybe I won't be satisfied, but that is only because I have been spoiled. We have all been spoiled by our current system. We can get bright red tomatoes year round, never mind they have been picked green and chemically ripened they still taste good, right? Well no, no they don't, not if you remember what a real tomato tastes like. So, I would rather shop seasonally, and become more connected with my local community in the process.
Sounds all well and good.
So I looked up some local grocers and went to New Leaf just down the street. I saw on their website they supported organic products and local farmers, as well as they have a basket program where you can order a basket on a week to week basis filled with produce or fruit or both for a decent price of $15/week. So I mosey on in, and make my way around the store grabbing 2 apples, labeled as "Michigan apples", and a bottle of "pure honey" ,and a couple gluten free muffins from a bakery in IL . I get to the counter and inquire about their basket program and ask what kind of produce they include and where it is from. To my surprise and disappointment the fine gentleman says that they have the same supplier as Whole Foods, and that they get most of their produce from them, BUT (he says with a smile) they get it 3 days earlier than you would see it on the shelves at Whole Foods because it sits in a warehouse before being distributed to the various Whole Foods locations. I stare at him, smile politely, and put back the pamphlet he has handed me.
Organic is not local. It is not necessarily BAD, but it is fishy. Why? Because organic has become bigger and bigger, and as it has become a fad, more and more organic farms are big, corporate farms, and big agriculture is what I am trying to get away from. I understand it is a business, and we live in a capitalist society, but once you start valuing quantity over quality we lose sight of the impact growing has on the soil and our world. Big, corporate organic farms spray "organic approved pesticides", and the organic rules and regulations are rather lax about space requirements, and animal treatment protocols. PLUS shipping "organic" produce miles and miles is still wasting fuel and producing more harmful gases than is needed when I can simply shop at the farmer's markets in my neighborhood. Also, and my apologies for this tangent, there is something about buying locally that makes me feel better. I get to support the community I live in, and I feel closer and more connected to the farmer. Sure, it is still a business transaction going to a farmer's market and talking to the farmer about their product. But, it is their land, and their personal livelihood, and maybe I am naive but I feel like it is a more honest practice.
OK, so we have my plan: buy local food, and buy what is in season. Easy, right? Well I guess that is what we will find out. Look for a post soon about local farmer's markets in Chicago and a list of what is in season!
Tata for now,
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