I used to have my green eating habits all set up. I had a box of local organic produce delivered to my door — and could supplement that delivery with a short walk to my local farmers market, local co-op, or Whole Foods, all of which offered local produce with clearly marked origins — fresh, loose and packaging-free.
Then I moved.
Moving is tough after you’ve lived somewhere for a few years, carefully settling into an eco-routine. Now, the produce delivery company has gone out of business, the local farmers market is 2.5 miles away (I no longer have my bike, as I mentioned yesterday), and the local grocery options are Pavilions and Trader Joe’s. To be fair, both those stores offer organic produce — if you’re satisfied with a limited, non-local, unnecessarily overpackaged, and, in the case of Pavilions, frightfully overpriced selection.
Good local organic food was my main justification for my weekly fossil-fuel burning trips to the co-op in my former neighborhood. There I loaded up on bulk organic fair trade coffee, organic California brown rice, and all sorts of organic beans and nuts. That said, I wasn’t buying that much produce even though I could carry it home in a car — because my new tiny apartment only has a mini-fridge. With the amount of produce I go through on a daily basis, what I can fit into the minifridge only lasts me a half a week at most.
In any case, I nixed those carbon-intensive weekly trips as of Tuesday — which means I needed to get more creative for yesterday’s No Impact Challenge: Food!
Luckily, I was recently introduced to another farmers market, one that's technically outside my city, but is nonetheless closer to my place than the farmers market that is within city limits. However, that closer market is still a little over a mile away — a too-long distance to carry more than a couple days’ worth of produce.
But I’ll start there for now, making sure to make the trip every Sunday. I’m also going to get a CSA subscription from a Northern California farm. Yes, the farm's farther away, but it's the only one that'll deliver to my door. The closer CSAs all require pickups, and all those pickup spots are too far away for me to walk to with a heavy load of fruits and veggies.
And though I’m done with weekly trips to the far-away co-op, I’m still planning to make monthly trips on the second Tuesday of each month, when the shop offers a 10 percent discount to members. That’s when I’ll stock up on all my bulk grains and beans and fair trade coffee, to keep it all packaging-free.
What I’m trying to point out with this exercise is that eating local and healthy can be easy, and traveling green can be relatively easy, too. But eating local and healthy while traveling green — if you don’t have a bike — can be a serious challenge, due to the weight of the produce involved.
One thing I’ve noticed with L.A. eco-foodies is that they often choose to ignore their own fossil-fuel intensive travel miles, while getting almost fanatically obsessed with the travel miles incurred by food items before they’re bought — and loaded into cars. This despite the fact that solo driving is the worst kind of travel miles, far worse than the travel miles incurred by trucks and ships that move a lot of food for a lot of people in one go.
When you go food shopping, what do you tend to focus on first? Car-free accessibility? Fair trade? Locally grown creds? Plastic packaging-free status? Organic certification?
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