When I was pregnant with Michael and paying for my groceries, boxed Mac & Cheese, Cap’n Crunch cereal, and candy, the clerk asked me why I didn’t eat healthier for my baby. I was living in Canada at the time, and everyone has a vested interest in people taking care of themselves. When a country has universal health care they tend to want to focus on prevention of disease. Huh, I thought to myself, why don’t I become the grown up that Michael will need me to be and learn more about food and nutrition?
So, I did. Michael Pollan and others became my favorite bedtime reading. I think we read one of Pollan’s books at camp one year? I learned all about buying organic and local produce, eating more plants than animals, and minimizing sugar and processed foods. What was interesting to me was how industrial agriculture has changed how we grow our crops. It’s a little disturbing to learn about the chemicals from WWII that we are putting in our ground and thus in our foods. Not to mention the harm to the farm workers, our bodies, and the earth that derives from this practice.
I tried to grow my own produce. We had luck with citrus trees and basil but never grew anything else well enough to sustain us. (Rosemary bushes are used in the landscaping in Arizona-so we have plenty of this herb) I continued with my practices of visiting the farmer’s markets, deliveries from CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), and attempting a garden. I kept reading and studying.
Learning our food system is wasteful and contributes to greenhouse gases, I wanted to know more. Prevention and not buying too much is the first behavior that I tried to change. I create a meal plan and only buy the ingredients for the recipes. We all know that some cookies and peanut butter make it into my basket! (and chocolate) Next, is donation, when I get too much of something I share with my neighbors. In Arizona we have the habit of leaving boxes of extra citrus out for whomever drives or walks by. Finally, composting the scraps.
I forgot about this step. Visiting Evan Laughlin, who is a temporary Arizona resident, reminded me of this important part of the cycle. And where did she learn this? I’m going to assume – camp.
My city has a composting service that is only $25/month. They come weekly and use my scraps to create healthier soil. Healthy soil captures more carbon and water. This reduces the food going into the dump which creates methane. I didn’t even have to read the list of what can go into my bucket. I already had this knowledge from sorting after meals at camp. I wished I had remembered this part of camp and brought it home earlier than now. As for Michael he has survived my former eating habits. I’m pretty sure he’s a huge fan of Mac & Cheese, though!
Note: if you are interested in this topic-the film ‘Kiss the Ground’ is wonderful. And some books that I have reserved at the library are: The Waste-Free World by Ron Gonen, Planet Palm by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman and How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates.
Shout out to Megan Warner for being a sustainability major and keeping me focused on these small difference that pay out huge rewards!