Energy Diet

A Green Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day this year, I found a restaurant in Boulder that was 100 percent local. Our waiter told us the story of the quaint place. They have a farm of about 200 acres where they grow all their fruits and vegetables, and when we asked about the meat, he told us they get it from the neighboring farm. Not only was the food amazing, it felt like we had just eaten at someone’s home.

On an everyday basis we are very aware of the food we eat and what we feed our kids. Prior to the energy challenge, I never really thought much about the environmental benefits to buying local/organic foods. When my wife first changed the places we buy our foods, from the first thing I noticed was the increase in our grocery bill every month. It is not significant, but enough to notice.

After I talked about it with her she said, let’s sit down and watch these documentaries about food. So I did. It was clear that we need to make sure our kids are not eating lots of processed foods.

Recently, I sat next to guy on the plane who worked for a large retail grocery chain. We started talking about sustainable farming and how they source their stores, which led to him telling me a banana is the fruit with the highest carbon foot print. This was something I had never really thought much about. But it’s a very easy concept for the kids to understand.

We always talk about cars that are “too big for the earth”. They are very quick to point out large trucks as too big for the earth. While they were eating a banana with peanut butter we described how that piece of fruit has to travel a long way in these large vehicles to get here. It was interesting to see them make the connection. Now when they eat a banana, they are aware it has to make a long journey to get here.

Now that we are doing the energy diet, we are much more in tune with the other benefits of buying local. We started to buy fruits that are in season and meat that is locally raised when possible. A service we really like is door-to-door organics, which is similar to a milk delivery except they bring fruit which is all grown in Colorado. It is like having the farmers market come to our house.

Comments

  1. clipton
    March 2, 2011, 8:50 am

    Please do not fall into the mindset that food miles are the ONLY indicator of carbon footprint.

    Bananas may indeed have a high footprint, however I want to caution against using food miles as the only or primary measure. Food miles do not account for mode of transport, method of production, packaging or other factors. Sea transport has significantly lower emissions than air or road. Products shipped by sea often have a lower footprint than local products transported by trucks.

    One widely used example compares flowers made in Kenya versus the Netherlands. The destination is the UK. Flowers produced in the Netherlands are grown inside and under heat lamps, which is very energy intensive. Taking into consideration both the mode of transport and method of production, flowers produced in Kenya have roughly one-fifth the carbon footprint as flowers grown in the Netherlands.

    Here is a useful article: http://www.panciuc.ro/food-miles-vs-carbon-footprint/

  2. Christina
    March 2, 2011, 2:07 pm

    That’s interesting, Chad. It certainly is a complex issue that makes things confusing for consumers. One rule of thumb I try to observe when I can is to only buy what’s in season (I rarely buy tomatoes in winter, for example). Of course, when it comes to products such as tropical fruits, there’s no low-footprint alternative.