Happy belated Earth Day! In honor of Earth Day, I'm sharing some reflections on eating and how it can help us be better Earth "citizens."
I've long been an advocate of making a difference by starting with baby steps. It's always helped me to remember that even if I can't make a huge difference right now or make huge shifts in my habits, I can still take small steps that gradually add up to something much larger. My baby steps started ten years ago with a forty day vegetarian challenge, which grew into a decade long vegetarian challenge, and then carried over into my cooking and shopping habits. Not being able to shape my meals around meat led me to eating more vegetables and shopping at more local farmer's markets. Later I began participating in Community Supported Agriculture programs, and more recently I helped start and now direct a local community garden. My original baby steps became habit, then second nature, and allowed me to slowly add on more and more.
Through my baby steps, I've learned that eating is such a simple way to make a huge positive impact. What we choose to eat and where we buy our food from can have lasting impacts on our bodies and on the environment. Today the environmental impact of large scale industrial farming is more visible than ever before. So too are the positive effects of small scale, organic farming. (I'm not going to write about that all here because that's all really another post for another day.) Eating environmentally consciously is conveniently better for the economy, local farmers, and our bodies. It helps us remember that we're part of the Earth and rely on it for our daily survival. When we honor that connection it's better for us and the planet.
I think Michael Pollan, food writer and activist, has been doing a great job of making this message accessible to a mass audience. I'm reading his book Cooked now, in which he discusses how cooking is one of the best ways
to remember our connection to the planet. It reminds us of where our food comes from, connects us to the food chain in a very intimate way, and helps us recognize that we come from and are nourished by the Earth. Here's an excerpt from Cooked that illustrates this point much better than I can!
...taking back the production and the preparation of even just some part of our food, has the salutary effect of making visible again many of the lines of connection that the supermarket and the "home-meal replacement" have succeeded in obscuring.... To do so is to take back a measure of responsibility...
..."the environment" ... suddenly begins to seem a little less "out there" and a lot closer to home. For what is the environmental crisis if not a crisis of the way we live? The Big Problem is nothing more or less than the sum total of countless little everyday choices, most of them made by us (consumer spending represents nearly three-quarters of the U.S. economy) and the rest of them made by others in the name of our needs and desires. If the environmental crisis is ultimately a crisis of character, as Wendell Berry told us way back in the 1970s, then sooner or later it will have to be addressed at that level -- at home, as it were. In our yards and kitchens and minds.
Wooh - I love that! Get it Michael Pollan. Here he's essentially saying that if we want to address the environmental crisis, we can start by paying attention to what we cook. Our gardens and farms are part of the
environment, and when we create sustainable ways of feeding ourselves, we help build a more sustainable relationship with our planet.
And that finishes my environmental PSA for today. Hope you all enjoy your weekend, and when you eat and prepare your food, I hope you take a minute to remember your connection our wonderful Mother Earth.