I thought, I really thought that we were doing pretty good about eating locally and organically. And then I ran the numbers on what we eat and where it’s from. In my pantry, I cataloged 152 items. 27 of those items were organic. Only 10 were local (and that’s using a fairly broad radius—about 300 miles). The harsh reality is the fact that the majority of the food my husband and I consume has a high probability of being chemically treated, genetically modified, and had to travel over 1500 miles to get to our plates. This is disappointing and disheartening. I’m ashamed.
But, despair is not the answer. There’s an important distinction between saying you believe in living a certain way, and actually living it. Now I can be sure that as I move toward a more sustainable diet and lifestyle, I am doing it with all of the facts about where I started and what my hang ups are. I (and others before me, I’m sure) have always said that being educated is one of the greatest burdens an individual can take on. I can no longer turn a blind eye to the way my habits and choices affect the rest of the world. I can see it, and if I choose to ignore it, or ignore it by default, I must take that guilt and shame with me to my grave.
So, as I move forward in this new chapter of walking the sustainability talk, I’m optimistic. I’m not saying I’m going to be able to buy 100% organic and 100% local all of the time, and that this is going to happen over night. But I’m going to strive for that. It’s all about weighing the choices we make. For example, I’m a tea drinker. And despite the fact that I can’t purchase it locally because tea isn’t produced in the United States, I’m still going to consume it. I think a certain amount of cross-country and even global trade is okay, even healthy. But what I am going to do, about the tea in particular, is make sure I purchase organically grown tea from a Fair Trade Certified co-op (that pays their workers a living wage and farms sustainably) so that I’m still making a responsible choice. I’m going to think about what I can do without. Like prepackaged Jello pudding. Chocolate pudding from scratch isn’t difficult to make with Fair Trade cocoa and organic soymilk. All it takes is a recipe and a little time. And I certainly want to make more room for both of those things in my life. I’m also going to think about things I can make myself. I enjoy being in the kitchen, cooking, baking and preserving food. Why purchase a can of pumpkin puree from Nestle or a can of bean sprouts from ConAgra when I can puree the pumpkin and sprout the beans myself? It seems too ridiculous to make purchases like that when you start to think about it that way.
I still have to assess the state of my Refrigerated items and tally the assessment for the entire household. I expect the results to be slightly better in this category, but I’ve got my eyes wide open to the fact that they may not be. And that’s okay. I’m taking a vow to learn to be better, to live better, and to teach better. I hope you’ll think about the choices you have when you’re in the kitchen, the supermarket, or the corner co-op. We all only have one chance on this one planet, and the way we choose to live really does make a difference. Hopefully, we’ll all choose to make the right one.