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

Earth Day & Birthdays // 5 Small Steps To Small Ecological Footprints

Happy (belated) Earth Day readers!

It was a busy week from reunions to yesterday’s CN tower climb and  Wednesday was consumed by  a flurry of chocolate and coconut flour and strawberries to make this cake for a very special birthday, but I still can’t resist an Earth Day inspired post!

 

cake

A holistic lifestyle is all encompassing and stretches well beyond our plates. It is both wonderful and terrifying to comprehend the profound impact we make on our ecosystems through the simple act of eating, which we do everyday, three times a day and I am adamant about not only eating for our own health but for the health of the planet.  Afterall, it is our responsibility to be green both on and off our plates and the wonderful thing is that it can be easy with small steps to small ecological footprints!
beach bends
Just imagine what would happen if we flipped our perspective to see every meal, three times a day, 365 days a year as the ripe opportunity to stand up for what we stand on. These are a few “piece of gluten-free, dairy-free cake” ways to start making a profound difference immediately, towards a more sustainable way of eating that benefits our bodies and planet alike and with that;

Here are a few of my favourite holistic life hacks for a healthy diet and healthy planet!

1. Eat Whole – Plan(e)t Powered

  • Americans discard an estimated 570 million pounds of food packaging every single day! And let’s face it, much of that packaging  is entirely unnecessary.  This excessive packaging of processed foods is typically comprised of unsustainable materials and energy intensive processes.
  • Whole food requires no packaging or processing. It’s simply real food as nature intended and the only “waste” is the scraps that are fed to your guinea pig or decompose to provide nutrients to our soil.

wholefood salad

2. Utilize reusable bags (or oversized purses)

  • The second option here is one of the many perks of having a purse the size of a shopping bag, especially when you’ve forgotten the reusable one at home or are attempting to sneak healthy snacks (or entire steak dinners if you were so inclined) into the movie theater. But men, you can stick to the reusable bags if you’d like.
  • Plastic bags take anywhere from 15-1000 years to decompose! What’s more, they are estimated to cost us around 12 million barrels of oil a year to produce and only about 15% of these bags are recycled world-wide. What happens to them? If not recycled they end up in landfills and oceans.

3. BPA plastic free (non pavement proof) mason jars

  • Ah, mason jars, my favourite! I use them for just about everything; water, kefir water, culturing sauerkraut, or portable salads, you name it! With glass, you don’t have to worry about toxic compounds such as BPA that leach from plastics. They also last much longer, provided you don’t test their resiliency on your car dealership’s parking lot pavement.
  • Tossable, plastic water bottles use a considerable amount of fossil fuel from both production and transportation and wind up filling our landfills. Bonus: by using reusable water bottles you save money too!

mason jars

The above is true “vitamin water” with blueberries | Lemon | Garden mint leaves

4. Pass on the plastic

  • It is easy to bring a reusable bag (or purse) but what about the sneaky plastics that find their way home with you? Simple! When shopping, take a pass on the little plastic produce bags. You will have to wash your fruits and vegetables regardless, save the plastic and throw the goodies right into your cart!

5. Eat local and in season

  • According to David Suzuki, the average meal currently travels 1200 km from the farm to plate.  One of the best ways to reduce the costly pollution from transportation and give you the most bang for your buck for health is to eat local and in season as much as possible. As Micheal Pollan once said:

“Skake the hand that feeds you”

  • When food is picked to travel distances, it is picked before its prime to avoid spoiling on the long trip over. This, however, is against nature’s design and will show up in the nutrient value (or lack thereof). When you buy local and in season you are eating foods that you were designed to eat at that time and they are picked in their prime! Perk: this typically offers greater taste as well!

storm

Eating should be at one with our environment and feed not only our own health and vitality but also the sustainability of our Earth and it’s a piece of holistic cake! These are just 5 ways you can make to have a big impact with a few small changes. Afterall, Earth Day truly is everyday 🙂

Stepping towards a smaller footprint,

Suzanne Eden

Your Holistic Guide To a Greener White Christmas (In just 14 steps!)

Dreaming of a green Christmas but a little stumped on where to begin?

Tuesday afternoon my step father and I bundled in fluffy coats and warm winter mitts and set off to scout out the perfect little Christmas tree as the evergreen centre peice to our family room. Nessled in a swirl of pine we spotted just the perfect one with a full, dense, bottom, white frosted tips and a bald spot at the nap of the long spindling neck. It was beautiful and though the car ride home savoured a road side stop as the trunk flew open, we made it home with the tree still intact. Success! Now getting it out was the real test of strength. How many Christmas tree enthusiasts does it take to yank a tree from its snug fit in the back of the car? Answer: 3.

With the tree perched in the family room, awaiting tomorrow when we will be trimming its branches with DIY decorations, I snuck a branch to my room to satisfy my lust of the aromatic pine. The perfect, chemical free air freshener as it is. And in the spirit of chemical free and green, let us spruce up this Christmas with an evironmental twist. Here are my top easy holistic steps to a greener white Christmas!

A Green Home

  1.  “Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how real are your branches?” – Buy a real christmas tree
  • There has been much debate over whether or not to go real or fake with both sides issuing a valid debate. But I will continue to support real trees. Though chopped down each year, at least they are grown in the first place and continue to be. Bonus: they are recycleable!
  • Make it green:
    • Buy local
    • Choose from farms that utilize the least chemicals possible
    • Recycle your tree after Christmas

2. Make all natural air fresheners

  • Whether or not your fresh pine tree is enough freshener, there are plenty of delicious smelling, stove top recipes that simmer and fill your home with aromatic fragrance. You can see my pinterest here: http://www.pinterest.com/Lifeofeden/  for recipes. The board: Christmas Cocoa and Fairisle Sweaters.

3. Save your energy putting up the lights

  • Save time and electricity but using lighting sparingly. This goes for inside and outside the home.
  • Opt for energy efficient, LED light bulbs.
  • Set a timer to turn them off around your bedtime.

4. Decorate with natural decorations

  • Instead of bowls of christmas bulbs, have vases and bowls of festive edible fruit arrangments (apple, oranges etc.) and nuts
  • Utilize pine cones and fallen branches etc.

ever green

Gifts that keep on Giving

5. Less is more

  • There is no need to go overboard on gifts. Focus in on less gifts that mean more.

6. Create a wish list

  • Others will thank you (we all want to give you a gift you will love) and you will recieve something you actually want. Bonus: you can relax your facial smiles – no forced smiles needed!
  • Make it green:
    • When making your list, think more about what you need instead of want. Ask for things you would have had to buy anyway, things that you will use time and time again, things that will last. And, of course, sneak in an item or too that is a complete splurge. Something you want but wouldn’t otherwise buy yourself, you deserve it!

7. Please Purchase Responsibly

  • Look for fair trade, support small local buisness as much as possible, less is more for packaging and steer clear of anything from China.
  • Bonus: When buying at small, local buisnesses, you tend to avoid the massive crowds of the Christmas mall rush and inevitable run ins with “Canada’s worst drivers” in the parking lot

8. Go DIY

  • Make as many gifts as possible! Or get crafty and think outside the box. Gifts don’t have to be store bought, they can be your friends’ favourite cookies (with – gasp! – your grandmother’s secret recipe for them), or skating lessons, a yoga membership, a gift card for something you two can do together, you name it!
  • Bonus: Buying something active will save that person from the post christmas overload of consumer workout equipment purchases and you may not have to wrap these gifts at all!

9. DIY your cards

  • Commercial cards use an expansive amount of waste. Make your own, make them smaller and add your personal touch. I am the official card writer in my family because of my quirky (or otherwise utterly corny) sayings littered with puns, but a nice, little handwritten message will go a long way
  • Make it green: the best and easiest way is through e-cards! Nothing to dispose of, just be sure to add your own personal touch to these too.

10. “Packages, boxes or bags!” Reusable wrapping!

  • From our adorable printed bags (no doubt from China) popping with tissue paper, you would never guess that they are moderatly eco-friendly. But what’s encased in them isn’t the only surprise, many of these bags have been in my family since I was a child. And the tissue paper is used until it’s brimming will holes. I, myself, try to get away with reusing it as much as possible so don’t look at your wrapping too closely 😉
  • Make it green:
    • Reuse your bags and gently tear the tissue paper from them as you unwrap them so that you can fold it neatly and reuse them next year. This can be done with bows, tags and even wrapping paper too.
    • I like to use old newspapers for wrapping. One Christmas I was able to fit a Christmas tree crossword on the front of my Mom’s cookbook and Dexter (one of the shows he watches) with blood splotches on the front of my brother’s gift.
    • Choose hemp or wrapping paper from recycled materials

11. TAPEr this down

  • Use tape sparingly or not at all. My step father uses tape at every crease possible. The tell tale sign he wrapped the gift: tapping the paper to the gift! TAPEr this down.

12. Regift!

  • This is a fantastic trend! Have something you don’t want or need but know someone who will appreciate it? Pass it on!

flowers

Festive Feasts

13. Splurge on the Bird

  • This is not the time to be cheap. Opt for a turkey that is local, free range, organic, grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free! Now thats a roast to feast on. By buying local, you can reduce your ecological footprint up to 75%!

14. Taste, don’t waste

  • On average, Americans waste up 96 billion pounds of food each year, according to the USDA
  • Keep it green:
    • Take a taste of the food and remember, you can always go back for more.
    • Utilize the left overs. Something you don’t think you can eat before it goes bad? Freeze it or divi it up for your guests to take home and savour the next day. I’m sure they will appreciate not having to cook for that meal.
    • To make good use of this, let your guests feed themselves! It easier for you and it allows them to take only what and how much they want.
    • Plan your meals and how much food you will actually need to avoid waste later. Compost what doesn’t get eaten and cannot be salvaged

I will still be wishing for a white Christmas of course, but will be doing my part to make it a green one too!

Sprucing up Christmas,

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