Friday, February 25, 2011

Remember Environmental Wednesdays? Well, you probably don't.

I realise this is a more serious topic than I've been discussing on Decoybetty recently. I mean not to say that Ted Mosby's hair isn't serious (and for those of you who come here via google searching for Ted Mosby (which is about 30 per cent of you), hello. He does have amazing hair, and I am sure you'd rock his hairstyle - which in case you need to know how to do it, I think is just rub some gel between your hands and tousle your hair).

Also, this is in no way a guilt trip, a heavily researched thesis, or an advice column. It's just me...writing about my feelings.

I grew up on a farm that had an organic garden. My mom froze excess veggies for the long winter and whenever we wanted some peas or green beans or corn or spinach or basil or applesauce or tomatoes or broccoli or oh my Moses do you get the point? All I had to do was go to the freezer or the pantry and pull out some canned or frozen organic veggies. It's just how it was.

When I first moved away from home, I started shopping at Whole Foods because it was important to me to buy organic veggies and canned goods. But I also was living in Western Massachusetts where there were farms. Farmers sold corn at the bottom of their drive ways. I could still see where food was produced. I felt connected to what I ate, even if those farmers weren't growing the food I consumed - it was right there.

Then, I moved to Melbourne. A city. Food production seemed so far away from where I am. Organic food is available at markets and for the first year I was really good about doing a weekly shop for fruit and veggies. Slowly, it's become inconvenient to shop at the markets. It's easier to go to the supermarket and just buy what I want to eat, and so I've let this become my pattern. Sure, if the super market offers what I am looking for organic then I'll buy that, but going shopping at two stores for the week was exhausting. Not to mention that I am basically living in two places right now, I spend about half the week at Inspector Climate's and the other half in my own apartment. It's a challenge to buy enough food but not so much that I waste it.

Inspector Climate and I have become mildly obsessed with the TV show on SBS called the Gourmet Farmer. It's about this feared food critic from Sydney who decides to move to Tasmania and grow his own food, make his own bread, raise his own meat, and trade with other local farmers for stuff that he isn't producing himself. It's become the new Future for our relationship. Some day we'll moving to Tasmania have chickens and a cow and big garden and apple trees.

So, when the Sustainability Festival, over the weekend, offered a lecture on sustainable food in an urban environment, Inspector Climate and I were there (not as quickly as we'd like as public transport failed us again). During the question and answer time we were reminded about the pesticides used to bring us vegetables at the supermarket, the water used to produce cheese and meat products, the benefits to the environment and soil for varied species of plants and animals raised, and the reduced greenhouse emissions if we buy locally and buy seasonal fruit and veggies.

Now maybe it's just because of where my career path is taking me - down the road of sustainability and climate change - but in combination with being unemployed I feel helpless in making a difference on This Global Problem We Face. Sure, I don't own a car, I keep my lights off to save electricity, I try to use minimal amounts of water, and I ask the government to take some initiative whenever I can. Yeah, I make an effort, but I can and could do more.

And then I had a talk to my parents who (to be fair are VERY left wing) were telling me how scary it is living in the US now and how terrifying a new Food Safety Bill that Obama was going to sign would be to the organic and non-genetically modified (Now remember, I have no idea about the credentials of this website, it's just some food for thought (Sorry, I had to)) food movement. Scary stuff!

So, here I am, on Friday having spent the week trying to figure out how I am going to incorporate sustainable food growth into my life in this urban environment. I feel like this is something I can control. I can't control how the majority of electricity is produced in Victoria, I can't control the fact that the public transportation system in Melbourne hasn't gotten a decent upgrade in years, and I certainly can't control the fact that it has taken years for the Australian government to commit to a Carbon Tax.

But I can control the food I eat, the food I buy, where I buy it from, and how I grow it. And this is me, telling you, I am going to start putting in more of an effort. Because pesticides are scary.

Right after the festival, Inspector Climate and I took our first step on our new quest to be more food conscious. And I can't wait to share it with you next week.

Have a good weekend my darlings, and will you do me a favour? Just once this weekend, ask yourself where that delicious bite of pizza (beer, pasta, cheese, smoothie, thai curry, cake, carrot, whatever you place lovingly in your trap) comes from or not. Just enjoy it. Because food is yummy.


  1. I love this post, it's definitely something we all need to more aware of.

  2. I agree it's tough to really live by those principles in a city. Perhaps it's a question of moderation. Do the best you can with the resources you have. How about campaigning for a roof-top garden to grow organic veggies? I saw a video on it on CNN and they do it in NY city. It reduces stormwater run-off and they sell the organic stuff to local restaurants. If you do a search on the CNN website you can see the whole story.

  3. Great post - very inspiring. I often think about how I can help the environment with little steps in my day to day life. Max and I are big recyclers, I try to shop at the market down the street from my house twice a week, and we're both stingy with electricity and water. I'd like to do more, but sometimes it's overwhelming and as much as I love and support organic, I dont have the budget to eat it as much as I would like :(

  4. I know virtually nothing about organic foods, so this was quite an enjoyable read. I'm hungry!! :)

  5. I live in a small town that is FULL of farms all over the place. Whenever possible the hubs and I try to buy local and to stop in at the Farmers Market when the weather is nice. It's definitely important.

  6. Nothing good comes from thinking about your food.

  7. Like they say, the ocean is made out of drops of water.

  8. I definitely try to eat locally and stay away from prepackaged foods.

  9. The Many Colours of Happiness - Exactly, I definitely think just asking the question is important!

    Mil - Yeah, I know there are some very cool roof gardens in NYC

    Crystal - Yeah, sometimes organic is just way too expensive. but I guess then buying locally is the next best thing!

    Cafe Fashionista - Oh good! I am glad it was slightly educational.

    Krysten - Good for you! There are so may people growing super yummy veggies, sometimes it can be hard to tap into the network - sounds like you're tapped in though!

    Susan - Hah.

    tattytiara - yes indeed!

    Victoria - Good for you!!

  10. This is such an important issue and yet I feel like I don't know enough about it. I want to eat better, but shopping at Whole Foods is so expensive. I can barely afford groceries at the local supermarket sometimes. *sigh*

  11. I totally agree with you, darling. Its really important to watch out what we buy and eat. I always try to get all the organic products as I find them much better for my family. Happy Monday, darling

  12. I was helping my mum pick out seeds last night and I thought of you and this post :) Also, can't wait to SEE what your first step looks like!

  13. Teacher Girl - It can be REALLY expensive.

    Diana - I find it amazing how much we've forgotten where our food comes from.

    Anne - soon! Soon!

  14. I grew up just like you, and the first time I had to buy vegetables .. VEGETABLES ... I about wet myself.
    They are talking about allowing GM salmon into the market, which means a whole slew of other messes.

    Go to Tasmania - I'm going to the further reaches of the peninsula here; to grow my own food, live my life free of GM food, and live responsibly.
    Strange how it's come to that.