The how of sustainable food

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Locavore is the new word when it comes to sustainable food and the sustainable food mantra is “Local, Seasonal, Organic”.

sustainable-veg Now let's look at those three points and one or two more:

Buy local – Buying local does not just mean to buy from a local shop, whether grocers or greengrocers but check where the ingredients themselves have been grown. This cuts down on food miles, storage, processing and packaging.

Ask you shop where the produce has come from and how it has been grown, and as to how it was farmed and how far it has traveled. Ideally this is something that we should demand to know and it should be information that stores should provide.

Buy and eat seasonal – The energy that was used to grow the food that is to say whether it was grown in a field, in poly tunnels and greenhouses, or in greenhouses using the hydroponic methods or whether it was grown abroad and transported in from another country. All this adds to the environmental footprint – even growing in fields does depending on the input of fertilizers and such. If possible anything not in season and from abroad should be avoided.

Chose organic and GM free – Natural farming methods have a positive impact on the soil and through organic farming methods soil can be kept fertile without the use of fertilizers that strip the soil of its goodness. In fact fertilizers based on certain types of chemicals and petroleum products harm the soil and, if we are lucky, just about feed the plant.

If you cannot get or afford organic produce then locally conventionally grown produce is still better than organic foods from abroad. Personally I cannot see how it can be justified to bring in “organic” green beans, for instance, from as far afield as Kenya (by air), considering especially that the Kenyans don't eat those beans but grow them only for the market in Europe.

Be thrifty – Use every last morsel of food that you buy, keep leftovers, ask for a doggy bag, be imaginative with ingredients. Use leftovers for soup, stocks and trimmings. Waste not, want not.

Say no to packaging – Buy products that have no or little packaging. All too often things, including produce, is totally over-packaged. Ideally buy loose and bring your own bags instead of using plastic ones from the store.

While some suggest to boycott supermarkets as supermarkets produce a huge amount of waste at all levels of production, this is not always possible. However, where possible buy direct from farmers markets and grocery stores. Support you local stores and especially those that sell goods loose. It used to be done that way and there is nothing wrong with it.

© 2012