5 Tips for Greening Your Graze
This time of year, there is a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables to be had, and when I visit the farmer’s market, it kind of makes me want to skip. I take inspiration from all the people devoted to feeding us with their endless labor of love. The abundance, variety, and colors on display are a sensory delight. I want to photograph it, paint it, write it a poem, and then fry it up with some garlic and olive oil. I am particularly inspired by tomatoes this time of year, all sweet, juicy, and sunshiny. The bacon, lettuce, and Perfect Tomato sandwich is one of the most beautiful things on Earth, and it’s all for you. The chorus of a bluegrass song sings, “There’s only two things that money cain’t buy, and that’s true love and home grown toe-maters.”
Another thing you can’t buy is a new planet. The choices we make about the food we intake influences our health, local communities, and the whole wide world. Please consider these 5 tips for greening your graze:
1) Eat Good Real Food.
When you eat good real food, you make a difference. Good Real Food is recognizable and has not been fussed with too much. If you could theoretically make or process the food on your own, it is likely Good Real Food. Consider the humble carrot versus the cream-cheese-frosted carrot cake. Or cheese -- like, really, any kind of cheese versus “cheese product.” Minimize the ingestion of “products” and increase your intake of Good Real Food. For instance, honey is a good real sweetener, and less processed than white, granulated sugar. A tiny step to greening up your eating might include using honey in your coffee instead of white sugar. Continue with other little steps and experiment with removing white sugar from your entire noshing repertoire. Good Real Food is a surprisingly easy diet that’s good for the planet and your backside.
2) Shop Local
Good real food produced locally is great for greening your eating. This is not really about hugging trees, wearing patchouli, or making lentil nut loaf -- this is about minimizing the carbon footprint of your corn on the cob. Food produced locally doesn’t require being transported into a different time zone. Also, it keeps your dollars in town, whereas shopping at a large, commercial grocer sends most of your greenbacks to corporate offices somewhere in Ohio.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a super easy way to green up your graze as well. Basically, in this scenario, the community (that’s you) supports the farmer, and the middle man is cut out. We joined a CSA last year, and for $20 a week, we get a rather impressive box of seasonal delights. Instead of trying to figure out what we will eat and shopping accordingly, we just figure out how to consume what they provide for us each week. Our CSA leaves produce boxes at a designated neighbor’s house, and I just cruise over there with my basket and pick it up. No parking lots. No lines. No paper, plastic, or canvas bags. When the seasons and the farmer dictate your diet, you save lots of time and eat healthier by default. Now that’s winning.
3) Shop Organic
Organically grown food helps preserve the integrity of the soil and minimizes the toxicity of irrigation run-off. Many folks often complain about the cost of organics -- but you will end up spending that money one way or another anyhow. I’d much prefer to spend the money on farmers and high quality berries now, rather than mediocre medical care later. Look for farmer’s markets and health food stores in your community, and stick to the organic selections at commercial grocers. Once you are shopping local and organic in concert, also known as l’organic, you are well on your way to being a green, clean, eating machine. Of course, if you want to be really organic and local, and you have access to sun and soil, plant a garden.
4) Eat Your Veggies
Once you buy or grow the l’organic fruits and veggies, you must eat l’organic fruits and veggies. You know how sometimes that head of cabbage just sits in the bottom drawer of your ‘fridge all forgotten, until its creepy pungent bad-cabbage odor indicates its way past prime coleslaw time? Prep your produce post purchase to avoid waste. So, wash it as soon as you bring it home. Chop it too, if need be. Now the carrots are ready to be eaten when you are ready to eat them, and you won’t grab at those plastic bagged potato chips.
Greening your eating also includes how your food is transported and stored. Bring your own bag. Bring your own basket. Bring your own water bottle. B.Y.O.B. can be a tricky habit to cultivate but once it takes root, it does make a difference.
Consider leaving extra canvas bags by your front door and in your car (for when you forget the bags by the front door). When you leave your home, take a reusable water bottle and/or commuter mug too. Similarly, include these items when you travel on holiday. In places like San Francisco, bags have already been banned. To quote former mayor Gavin Newsom, “As California goes, so goes with the nation…” Even though Mayor Newsom wasn’t talking about banning the bag specifically, it is indeed inevitable that all citizens will be asked to b.y.o.b. soon enough.
You should be tripped out about "disposable" plastic because there is a human generated garbage island in the Pacific, and it's big. The National Science Foundation thinks The Great Pacific Garbage Patch may be twice the size of Texas. As the plastics in the garbage island degrade, plastic particulate matter is ingested by fish. The fish are then ingested by other fish and/or humans. If you can't do anything to remove the plastic island, then please consider green grazing choices that do not contribute to its expansion.
You can green your graze one choice at a time; nothing says grace and elegance like a small carbon footprint.
Dana Gray is an artist, teacher, and yogi in Sacramento, California. She believes that all folks are artists, and is particularly interested in equity, sustainability and their various intersections. She also really digs on gardens and good real food. Find more inspiration and food for thought at catnip and mint.