Sunday, May 03, 2009

Wouldn't Ignorance Be Bliss? (some thoughts about our world and roles)

A few things I've been thinking about:

*Local or Organic?

I've been particularly conscious of organic produce for a while now (as many of us have). Most of the groceries stores close by have either small organic selections or very pricey ones, so I've become faithful to the farmers' market (oh how I love tables of honey jars, cartons of eggs, heaps of onions, apples, bunches of beets). I started going for less expensive organic produce and because it became a Saturday morning ritual with Silas, which always involves a cup full of kettle corn.

In my wallet I carry a little chart that Cooking Light published in their April 2009 issue of the top 5 fruits and vegetables that are must-have-organics and skip-organic, so I keep that in mind too. Here's their list:

Buy Organic:
-potatoes (root vegetables in general)
-bell peppers

Skip Organics and Save Money:

My main motivator for buying organic is to reduce (or avoid) the pesticides and chemicals we put in our mouths, and especially that I put into my children's mouths. It always seemed to me better to buy organic at a store than not-organic at the farmers' market. But after talking to some of the farmers and reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, I learned that many of the small farmers are not certified organic (there are many hoops to jump through for the official stamp) but DO grow their produce chemical-free. This is good to know.

Another thing I learned is how exceedingly important buying local is for our farmers, for our economy, and for reducing waste (oil and other). I never really realized that before. So the question of whether to buy organic in the store or not-organic at the market has changed for me. So much so that I spend my time at the grocery store constantly reading labels to see where the milk farm is, where the eggs were laid, where the avocados were grown etc.

So I'm buying Local (more). Which often kills two birds with one stone because local usually means small farm, which usually means friendly, natural farming methods.

Oh heavens.
I have written about this before because I am haunted by garbage and by our consumption.

Not long ago, I bought Silas the book Where does all the Garbage Go?, and every time we read it, I wish I didn't have to think about the answer! According to the book, each of us produces about FOUR POUNDS of trash PER DAY. Even if we are generating only or a quarter of that, the math is astounding. And all that trash can only go so many places... (um, hello, WALL-E).

I've made some little steps in our house of much garbage -- finally (FINALLY!) I recycle -- why don't all counties swoop blue bins off the curb? And I am trying to be conscious of what I throw away, which -- the really hard part -- means being conscious of what I buy... I try asking if what I'm buying will end up in the trash within a year and if I could get it used (and without all the packaging) somewhere else. These are hard questions when I'm gearing up for plane rides and will buy ANYthing to entertain, or when it's Saturday morning and time to go garage sale-ing, but it's time for Eden's nap, Silas slept badly and is crabby, Ben wants to surf, and I would love a coffee.

As for composting, another thing I'd like to try, I haven't yet. Ben, because he is Ben, thinks we should skip buying the $275 composter and make our own, which sounds clever and thrifty, but could quickly become a bin of pungent rotting food on the back deck. Any suggestions?

On a slightly more empowering note, Ben sent me an email recently about the 3/50 Project
which is a project for supporting local businesses. The bottom line is this: pick 3 local businesses you love and spend $50 at each per month. The impact sounds worth it -- check out the website!

I am going to try to do this -- will let you know how it goes.

As always, there is so much to change and challenge in our world. And there is so much that's easy to ignore (or not ask questions about). It's overwhelming, really. So I am trying to remember -- and believe -- that teeny actions like putting recycling bins on my back deck and noticing my trash (does noticing count?) matter.

Is there anything you are trying to notice?

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