Six Ways To Think Globally By Eating Locally

You’re a car pooler, an HOV lane local, a savvy  navigator of public transportation.

You are fully aware of the impact of gas emissions on our environment and carefully manage your ecological footprint, but did you ever consider the mileage on your plate?

 local

The average meal now travels around 1500km from farm to table according to David Suzuki. That is one costly road trip for the produce and environment alike. To put this into perspective, from MindBodyGreen, that means the average North American meal composed of some meat, grain, fruits and veggies, uses 4 to 17 times more petroleum if buying conventional versus buying local ingredients.

Take a look at your breakfast this morning. Where did it come from? Was it picked fresh from your garden, plucked from the your local fruit stands, or pulled from the grocery store aisles? Most supermarkets are supplied by global (national and international) farmers, whereas local growers are based right in the region, reducing the cost of gas, while fueling the community.  Buying locally from farmers markets and fruit stands is a simple, nutritious and delicious means to support our environment and our local economies. Here’s how:

  1. Fueling the food systems
  • The global system uses anywhere from 4 to 7 times as much fuel for transportation, and produces 5 to 17 times more CO2 emissions than regional or local food systems, according to Cornell University.
  • The Center for Agricultural Business reported that in California alone, more
    than 485,000 truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables leave the state
    every year and travel from 100 to 2,100 miles to reach their destinations.
  • What you can do:
    • When buying local, the gas emissions from transportation are dramatically reduced. It is simply you driving, or better yet, walking or biking, and the transport from farm to the fruit stands.

fruit stand

2. More Nutritional Bang For your Buck

  • Conventional produce is picked before its prime to avoid spoiling on the long distance it travels for distribution to supermarkets.
  • Furthermore, fresh food can lose up to 50% of nutrients 3-5 days after harvest. So if our food is lacking nutrients in the first place, then is losing many of these nutrients on the way to our dinner tables, we’re losing a large portion of what we were wanting in the first place; valuable  vitamins and minerals. Thinking globally, we all know the vast expense of health care and the more we incorporate fruits and vegetables rich with nutrients, the more we access the power of preventative health care!
  • What you can do;
    • When you buy locally, you are getting the full spectrum of nutrients from fresh produce, picked ripe from the vines and sold directly to you to diminish nutrient depletion.

3. The Price Is Right

  • Generally far cheaper, as the money is going directly to the support of your local growers. There is no watering down costs to distribute to drivers, the supermarket sellers etc. This money is most likely recycled back into your community to benefit jobs on a local level.

 

eat local

4. TASTE!

  • I’m willing to bet that the main reason so many people think they don’t like veggies is because they aren’t having the true, flavourful vegetable. Take the taste test yourself, particularly with a tomato. What is hard, flavourless and more reminiscent of a rubber ball than a healthful food sold in supermarkets, is plump, juicy and nutritious when picked ripe. We are absolutely spoiled to live in the fruit belt and have a garden overflowing with heirloom tomatoes, but all you need is a visit to your local grower to reap the real taste.
  • Where does this lack of taste “stem” from? Take a look at the freelance article I wrote for EcoEating here: http://ecoeating.ca/case-of-the-tasteless-tomato/

 

5. Less waste

  • Globally, close to half of all food produced is wasted according to David Suzuki. Take the summer strawberry for instance where the average total loss from harvest to the consumer’s table is estimated to be more than 40%!
  • Holistic life hacks;
    • Ask for “seconds” at your local fruit stand. As the misfits of the fruit stands, seconds don’t look as pretty, may be sporting a few bruise spots that need to be sliced off or have an irregular shape. 30% of fruits and vegetables don’t make it onto North American superstore shelves for this very reason. By purchasing these perfectly good fruits, you will save yourself money and also decrease the waste of them potentially being tossed away.

 

veggie basket

6. Better Biodiversity

  • Smaller run, local farmers are far more likely to utilize the practises of crop rotation for more sustainable agriculture. This means rotating many varieties of crops which makes them more resilient against disease without using pesticides and promotes healthy soil. Conventional produce on the other hand, is often the practise of mono-culture which creates a vast host of issues leading to a need for increased pesticide use.

 

There are SO many perks to going local that extend beyond this list, from developing a greater sense of connection to our food, to getting one on one interactions and making friendships unlike you would in the grocery line. Instead of a quick “hello”, scan through of food, grab your money and go scenario, local farms encourage an open and friendly atmosphere and many of the workers work all week. It’s the ample opportunity to grow friendships while you grab your fresh picked peaches.

Diets rich in nutritious fruits and vegetables are cooperatively the healthiest for ourselves and the environment. This is true plan(e)t powered eating.  Fresher, tastier and better for both the consumer and local communities, you have every reason you need to grab your reusable shopping bags and head out to your local farmers market!

Suzanne Eden

Manifest Monday // A Charles Dickens Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (a Movement in Sustainability)

Tis the season of bulging stockings and empty wallets. Abundance in consumerism but a depleted earth. Admist a surplus of materialism, what are we truly giving? Where is our planet, the giver of all things, falling amongst the intricate wrapping and shiny bows? With financial stress and strains, it is no wonder so many have found the Bah-Humbug of Embinesor Scrooge. Perhaps, just like our friend, all we need to do is realise that the future does not have to be as we see it now if only we wake up and make a change.

 

I belive in the good things coming

Dear readers,

Now before we begin, let me assure you, I am an absolute christmas fanatic and in no way am I saying that gift giving is wrong. It is a wonderful thing when it comes from a loving place, in moderation and done right, can give back to the environment too. Thats where I see us heading too in the furture; a greener, more sustainble, balanced celebration with less gifts and more presence.

 

Christmas is a time of giving. YES! But we’ve come to a shift. A shift from  giving away our money, our sanity, and our planet’s natural resources to giving back to the environment instead. Are you ready for a green christmas?!  The true spirit of Christmas, afterall, lies beneath the wrappings and gift bows and even, dare I say it, the feast of festive food! The most meaningful part of it all is family coming together for the gift of unity. Yes, that gift. The gift that cannot be manufactured, shipped across seas and stamped with a price tag.

 

FACT: Our world cannot sustain Christmas as it is now and we are the ones who are going to change that!

Greener

Unlike Scrooge, without a grim attired spirit to directly show us our fates to come, we can turn a blind eye to buying so many things, especially when it’s a cultural tradition. In psychology we often relate this to a phenomena known as cognitive dissonance. This occurs when our belief systems do not match up with our realities. We understand that Christmas is harmful for the earth yet our behaviours are in complete contradiction to this. What do we do? As humans, we strive to maintain balance between our beliefs and realities  and so we have a choice. We can either:

  • A) Become a Krank (from Christmas with the Kranks) and decide to opt out of Christmas altogether
  • B) celebrate Christmas in an actively sustainable, unconventional way
  • C) not pay attention to our environmental impact and put more mental focus on the “stuff” and gift giving and wrapping

When we feel overwhelmed or that there is little we can do, we naturally revert to the option of least resistance. In this case, likely option C, the one we are often accustomed to. But that isn’t to say that just like our dear Scrooge we can’t turn this around, we can! All we need to do is wake up.

The STATutory Holidaze

According to stats Canada’s annual Christmas by the Numbers feature for 2012:

  • 230.2 million – value of christmas decorations imported to Canada (the majority coming from… you guessed it, China)
  • 4.4 Billion – the value of food and drink purchased
    • Us Canadians happen to be one of the highest ranking in food waste
  • $548.9 million — The value of televisions and audio and video equipment purchased in Canada in December 2012. (just Tvs, audio and video equipment alone).

The Story of Stuff

First things first; in waking ourselves up, we need to understand why we want to do it. Just as gripping as a Christmas carol, the story of stuff is a beautifully illustrated representation of the past, present and future of our consumerist economy. We can begin this Christmas to head towards a better system, a more sustainable, holistic system that gives to everyone, including our earth and fellow inhabitants. Afterall, where are Santa and his reindeer going to live when they can no longer call a melted North Pole home?

This is an absolute must watch video that’s cute, fun and extremely informative!

So now that we’re a little more informed, what do we do about this? That’s truly the big ticket item here after all. Here are a few tips to reduce our cognitive dissonance:

1. One foot in front of the other
Just as I recommend for your diet, take on one thing at a time. When we become overwhelmed, we feel a lack of control on our situation and will often revert back to our old habits, these are safe, these we know. Creating new habits takes time. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you are well on your way to a greener Christmas!

2. Make the chosen path more valuable and enjoyable

This is all about shifting our focus. Think of how amazing it feels to know that you are celebrating Christmas while doing good for the earth!

3. Consistent Beliefs

Become conscious, from here on out, with what you are purchasing. Lets keep in mind what we need instead of want, what we can give instead of get and what will benefit us and our earth for future generations to come. Is it ethical, sustainable, or is there a better choice? Make the best choices you can. Now that your actions are in line with your beliefs, you won’t experience that discomforting dissonance.

These are just a few tips (with more specific ones to come) to get you moving towards greener, more sustainable Christmases to come! We want the future glowing as bright as the energy efficient Christmas lights that are used sparingly around your festive home!

With loving steps to a greener future,
Suzanne Eden

Walk This Way: 14 Reasons to Strut Your Stuff

Another one bites the dust

Thursday morning began with a phone call explaining that my car had bit the dust. By the end of the day, I had bought my first official car and in that spirit, I decided to do a blog post on the power of, well… walking. Fitting, no?

In truth, I’m the first to understand that a car can be extremely useful. Our bus systems here are unreliable and an hour and a half clocked on before and after work just isn’t practical, leaving me incredibly blessed to have my hands on a new steering wheel. That being said, it’s all too easy to become dependent and so I try to get out and walk or bike places as much as possible.

The Sedentary Facts

  • A 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey on Canadian’s activity levels showed, at 48%, that almost half of Canadians twelve or older spent less than half an hour walking a day with 25% admitting to sitting the majority of the day. 41% reported spending less than an hour to walk to work or for errands.

It seems walking is in our nature, but not in our routine.

Alexander bridge

Do you fall under the common misconception that a workout needs to be strenuous to be effective? Think again! We spent all day Wednesday touring the grounds of the Toronto Zoo and by the end, we were all feeling the day’s work and were sprawled out on a picnic blanket with empty water bottles, waiting for refreshments and a wholesome meal. Simple walking is an easy and accessible way to incorporate working out into our daily routine. The goal being to make it less of a workout and more of a lifestyle. We should take a cue from the European lifestyle of walking everywhere and implement this into our daily life for weight loss and general health and wellness. After all, these legs were made for walking and this is what they’ll do:

  1. Walk your way to health
  • Regular movement protects us from disease through many mechanisms including reducing inflammation, regulating blood sugar levels, and reducing obesity rates.

      2.  Steps to an ecological footprint

  • No equipment needs to be manufactured and operated, no facility needed beyond the great outdoors, no gas emissions to get you there, this is the environment’s finest of workouts.

     3. Walk off excess fat

  • Any exercise will assist in weight loss, yet walking may burn a higher percentage of fat than will high intensity exercises. It’s important to note that true weight loss is derived from more than just body fat percentage yet low intensity exercise has also been shown to have higher compliance rates, meaning you’re more likely to stick with it!

     4. Refreshing but not exhausting

  • Walking uses less energy resources than do higher intensity workouts. Even after a long day’s work, a gentle walk is enough to rejuvenate and relax the body.

    5. How we are designed

  • Rule of thumb for your health: live as you were designed to live!

     6. Happiness is just a step away

  • Studies have shown that regular exercise such as a brisk walk may be as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression!

      7. Brain fuel

  • Walking can stimulate the brain, improve memory, increase cognitive performance, and may even boost creativity! All heightened when coupled with the clean oxygen provided by a walk in nature.

     8. Productivity

  • Studies show an increase in workplace productivity when walking was incorporated into the workday routine. Some of these studies used “treadmill desks” as the source of walking. There’s no excuse NOT to walk with that one!

     9. Stress reduction

  • There are many ways this happens but an interesting one: it boosts your feel-good endorphins and kicks your stress hormones to the curb!

    10. Calm mind

  • Many studies show that walking can put us in a meditative state. Om on.

    11. Immunity boosting

  • Studies have shown positive effects on the immune system when walking for 30 minute periods. This is once again strengthened in the outdoors when you reap the benefits of fresh air, vitamin D and the soothing effects of nature.

     12. Digest this

  • Gentle walking 40-60 minutes after a meal is a great way to improve digestion by stimulating the internal organs allowing food to pass through the system faster.

     13. Free to a good roam

  • No equipment, no money needed!

     14. Conveniently located

  • Whenever, wherever, a walk is a step away.

 

Walk this way: guidelines to increase the benefits of your daily walk:

  • Take it outdoors away from big cities for air quality and immerse yourself in as many natural surroundings as possible
  • Aim for 30 mins. or more brisk walking per day and focus on engaging your muscles
  • Make it your top mode of transportation, whether through errands, going to walk, walking at your lunch break, whatever it is,  make it a routine.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”

– Lao Tzu

Walking the way to health,

Suzanne Eden