Sustainable food. Is it better to buy a local organic apple? Well there are no chemicals used (+1 health) and it takes less fuel to get that apple to you (+1 emissions saving). What about the apple from Fiji though? It had to travel thousands of miles to get here (-1 emissions), and who knows what the organic standards are like over there (we’ll give it a 0 for health), but are you also helping to create jobs and livlihoods for developing economies? With the global food trade, some countries are getting themselves on the map. In parts of Africa only fruit grows. Should they just eat fruit all year because it’s local or should they bring money into their economy and give people a living wage by exporting them?
Then you have the whole situation when it is actually less energy intensive for people in England to fly in apples from New Zealand then it is for them to grow them ‘locally’. Bet the local farm movement (to which I’m a proud member) didn’t tell you about that one eh? New Zealand’s climate is just about perfect for growing apples. No pesticides are needed, no irrigation, no energy, just natural sun and rain. Apples can grow almost all year long and large quantities can be produced with limited energy. England’s climate is shit for growing apples. The growing season is short and yields are low. So per apple it is actually less energy intensive to ship a New Zealand apple to England than it is to grow one down the street. Great! Now what.
My advice is to mix up your fruits and veggies and buy things local and in season as much as possible, but don’t feel bad if you grab that New Zealand apple (unless you live in New England in the fall, in which case you should definitely be eating a delicious local mac). Learn more about pesticides and organics – on any fruit or veggie that you eat the skin (peaches, grapes, apples, etc) you definitely want to go organic as those things going right into your stomach have been sprayed and sprayed with toxins..Gross. For things with a peel (bananas, avocados, etc) if you can’t afford to go organic in every way, pick the non-organic versions of these as there is at least some protection from the chemicals getting in to what you are actually eating. But do remember that you can’t wash away toxins..
And read! Educate! I am a vegetarian even though I totally believe in the circle of life (yep Lion King reference) because I don’t believe the meat we’re eating is really food. Watch Food, Inc, King Corn, Two Angry Moms, and then when you’re nice and depressed, go watch the awesome things people are doing to make change: Fresh: the Movie, and French Fries to Go.