J500 Media and the Environment

Better Eating through Sustainability by marybethw

earthapple What does it mean to live sustainably? When it comes to food, many often only think of production — was this lettuce grown organically? how far did it travel to get to my kitchen? With the growth of such food venues as farmers markets and CSAs, more people now have more access to sustainable options than in the recent past. (I put it like that since, not so long ago, when humans lived closer to the land and we didn’t rely on “better [eating] through chemistry,” sustainably produced food was more often the norm.)

While food production is an important aspect, it is also important to keep in mind the other aspects of maintaining a sustainable lifestyle in today’s society. For example, even if that onion was farmed organically by a farmer, say, 20 miles from you, what was it’s environmental impact? True, produce grown under the above conditions do not have the same impact as produce grown across the country (even if grown organically). The impact is even worse when you turn to meat production. The true cost might shock you.

Judy Wicks points out that another important facet of living sustainably is the human facet. Did the workers/producers get fair, living wage for their product? Or were they treated little better than drones? As Wicks points out, looking for products that have been fair trade certified helps create a strong and stable community.

By this point, you may be thinking, “My god! I’m hungry! I just want to eat!” And it is true that, with so much to think about, organic, sustainable, fair trade, humane, etc, it may seem just too daunting; it’s much easier to not think about our meal’s pedigree. But, our current, mainstream food lifestyle is not sustainable and we are already feeling the impact (e.g. global warming, health problems, etc). So, while it may be easier to close our eyes now, it will only be harder to explain to the next generation why we did not try to better their environment, why you just had to have that out of season, conventionally grown kiwi.

~Mary Beth

Image from: worldwatch.org


4 Comments so far
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It is hard living so far away from where out food is grown. I really liked the city planning stuff from Spain that we saw in KC. It was interesting to see how high-rises were being incorporated into a growing landscape. At some point we’re going to have to stop the technology and convenience craze and get back to basics!

Comment by meganr21

I agree, I feel the same disconnect. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing our food inside and away from its natural environment that its difficult to realize its impact (and our impact) on the world around us. If a change is to be made in how we produce our food, a change in our perception of food must first be made.

Comment by janiec52

The questions that you ask at the beginning of this post ring so true, especially in a society that throws “sustainable” around like it’s nothing. And in turn, the meaning starts to turn into nothing.

What does sustainable mean? How can we define it when it comes to food?

Comment by Lauren Keith

Two responses: First, I don’t think we have to stick with living far from our food — there are quite a number (and even that’s growing) of options that allow you to know where your food comes from. Granted that it might take a little more work, but I think it’s something we need to do more of.

Secondly, I’m honestly not sure how to define sustainability. While, yes, it can mean living in balance with the earth, other humans, etc., because it is impossible to not leave some mark behind (no matter how hard you try), it’s hard to stick to a concrete definition. Although that may seem an “easy way out,” I do think we have to be careful in “defining” things — the more rigidly we stick to one idea, the easier it is to turn people away (or, to put it another way, the easier it is for someone to say “there’s no way I can do that” and, therefore, not even try).

Comment by marybethw

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