Eating Green Part 2 (and 3): Local and Organic Foods
Another approach to green eating, which for maximum impact will be done in conjunction with choosing a plant-based diet, is to choose local. Ideas to help achieve this goal: Start checking out the signs next to produce at your local grocer which indicate where the produce originated, or check stickers on the produce itself. Try to buy produce in season (check the following link where you can search your state and the time of year for a list of produce in season: http://www.sustainabletable.org/seasonalfoodguide/). For a fun adventure, pick your own produce and can or freeze large quantities. See this guide to locate u-pick farms: http://www.pickyourown.org/index.htm#states.
Other ideas: Shop your local farmer’s market when available, or join a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which offers subscriptions for delivery or pickup of local produce. If you have a little bit of land to work with, or even a little balcony to put some potted plants, try your hand at growing some of your own food. Seeds (will need a little more time and care) and vegetable, fruit and herb plants can be purchased at garden centers.
Shop organic when available. Certified organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation or genetic engineering. Rather, farmers use crop rotation and other natural pest preventative techniques. Organic food animals are given organic feed, and are not given growth hormones or antibiotics.
Sometimes a choice must be made: Organic or local? For example, local apples from in (or near) state, or organic apples from across the country or even across the world?
If you can speak to the growers directly at your local farmer’s market, you can ask them about their practices and whether or how often they are spraying the produce. Some farmers may use no pesticides, or use them very sparingly, though they have not gone through the process of obtaining organic certification.
If you can’t determine the growing practices for the produce you are purchasing–for example at the grocery store–or can’t afford to buy all organic, the following lists (published annually by the Environmental Working Group–https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/) may help. Try to buy the fruits and veggies on the “dirty dozen” list organic if possible. With the “clean fifteen,” you may decide it’s not worth it (though still may be more environmentally friendly) to go with the organic version.
Dirty Dozen (Try to buy organic)
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
Clean Fifteen (less pesticide residue)
- Sweet peas
What kind of foods do you purchase locally, organic, or both?