Can we be a "little bit" green?
by: Lori Shecter
So, are you trying to be a little more earth conscious?  It’s hard not too—being hit in the face with all that green messaging.  And especially now, when  farmers’ markets are filled will delicious looking local produce.  But what does green really mean?  Can you be considered eco-friendly if you drink a Diet Coke now and then (well, more like now and NOW, but who’s counting?)  Does just a little bit help?  Does eating locally mean you are eating organically?  

We asked lots of questions but we got lots of different answers; going from one organic farmer to another is a little like asking a priest and rabbi about which God to pray to – they both believe there is a higher being, they just have different thoughts about the right being to pray to.       

We discovered on both sides of the country, organic farmers are held to a specific standard on how to raise crops, what to feed their animals, what they could use to kill pests and what kinds of fertilizers to use.  This is all regulated (but not by the FDA) and you can read more about it here.  Some farmers worked hard, felt the regulations were not enforced (and many get away with saying they are organic, but are not practicing) while others felt the whole thing was a bunch of politics—they practiced sustainable farming anyway (i.e. their chickens only ate grass and insects, never were put in cages, never given corn, hormones or antibiotics) and they felt absolutely no need to pay for an expensive piece of paper.  That being said, that same farmer sold out his eggs $8/dozen (200 dozen every week) at the 14th Street Green Market in NYC. (Those eggs had to have something better in them then Eggland’s best....maybe liquid gold.)  That same farmer felt that my organic grass fed beef supplier, who willingly ships his beef to all parts of the country, is hypocritical by spending loads carbon emissions of jet fuel.  

But one thing we do know, eating locally, whether organic or not, does help support local farms and many of those farms  seem to practice some form of sustainable farming because well, asparagus really is only available for 6 weeks in the east coast (and that time is May and June.)  Obviously, many other fruits and vegetables grow by season. A fruit that is out of season in your area travels hundreds or even thousands of miles from a place in growing season to get to the supermarket near you. The grocery store offers a plethora of produce; when we want it, where we want and seemingly as "fresh" as if we had picked it off the plant itself.  But while those strawberries may be organic, hundreds of gallons of petroleum are used to transport it to you.

So, as the saying goes, make hay while the sun shines.  Translate:  If you can, eat locally, Even better? Eat organically.  Choosing foods grown locally saves gas, cuts down on travel time and get fresher produce.  And fresher food means more nutrients.  Summer doesn’t last that long in most parts of the country, so now’s the time to enjoy.  (Even if you have a Marlboro Light with that Diet Coke, not that I’m sayin’…)
For a list of Farmer's Markets in your neck of the woods, go here.
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