Monday, July 7, 2014

Meatless Monday: Better Late Than Never

Belated Thoughts for Independence Day 2014

As Americans we enjoy many freedoms, including for most of us, freedom from hunger.

In fact, many of us enjoy the freedom to acquire almost any food we desire at almost any moment.

We can buy fresh berries in winter and lettuce all year long. We can shop the frozen food aisle for barramundi from Vietnam or lamb from New Zealand. 

If we are willing to pay the price, the foods we crave are as near as the closest supermarket.

I learned at the recent New Haven Green Drinks held at Miya’s Sushi that eels that start their life off the coast of Maine are shipped to China to grow to maturity, then shipped to Japan for processing, and back to the US for purchase. This surprised me. This is a huge carbon footprint, and it seems to me, a loss of American jobs.

Next time you are ready to buy an exotic or out of season item, stop to consider some of the hidden costs to the planet and society. 
  • How far did this product travel?
  • What were the growing conditions?
  • Where was it processed?
  • Were the workers paid and treated well? 

Just as we have the freedom to buy what we want when we want, we also have the freedom to say “No, I don’t need that.”

We can
  • grow our own if we have the space 
  • purchase items in season, and process and freeze the fall harvest for those long winter months
  • support our local farmers by shopping at farmers markets, through a CSA, or by purchasing items marked LO (for Locally Grown) at the grocery store

When buying packaged foods, we should read product labels to learn
  • where the product is grown and processed 
  • whether it is raised without pesticides and growth hormones
  • if it contains any artificial ingredients

If you don’t like what you discover about a familiar product, stop buying it, and tell the manufacturer you are boycotting it, as I did when I discovered that the frozen, organic green beans I bought in the winter months were actually grown in China

Meat, fish, and dairy purchases pose a plethora of additional questions, as does eating out, but that is too much to discuss on a first day back from vacation.

Exercise your freedom by supporting our hardworking family farmers and those in the food industry who are helping to get their products to the market.

If all of us spend our food dollars wisely and well, we can make a difference.

Happy Monday. A belated Happy Independence Day. Have a great week!

I’ll be back with a recipe next time, for sure.

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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