Happy Earth Day everybody!
I was going to take the day off from work today, in order to complete one of my own personal Earth Day goals. But Earth Day around ServInt is particularly busy, so I’m postponing my goals for the moment. Instead I would like to share them with you here.
I am going to go meet my farmers.
“Green” means different things to different people, and each of us has our own goals and our own comfort levels with making changes that positively impact our environments. I am not trying to evangelize or to change any minds here. I just wanted to give a quick glimpse at some of my own current green goals, because they may be slightly different than some of the ones you’ll be hearing all Earth Day long.
Of course, those are important, so let’s get a few of them out of the way:
Buy and use compact fluorescent bulbs. Don’t drive when you can walk. Carpool or use public transportation when you can. Think about taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Look into hybrid vehicles. Get some reusable shopping bags. Recycle. Turn off stuff when you leave the room. Use low-flow showers and toilets. Give a hoot, don’t pollute.
To those helpful (and hopefully not condescending) suggestions I add one – consider going to meet the people who make the food you buy, and to see how it’s made.
“Organic” is a buzzword that has been overused almost as much as “green”. When my son was born in 2007 we thought we ought to try to eat organic, but needed to do a bit of research to figure out why, and what that meant to us. I was heavily influenced by two books written by Michael Pollan – In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. The ‘hero’ of the latter is a Virginia farmer named Joel Salatin, who talks about the benefits of small, sustainable farming. He makes a shockingly compelling case.
Most food (even the stuff sold at places like Whole Foods) comes from industrialized farms. I am not going to go into too many details about what that means, or whether that’s a good or bad thing. All I’ll say is that in America the small farmers struggle to survive. That’s a shame, because many of them are doing some wonderful things.
In 2007 my wife and I joined a CSA. That’s a Community Supported Agriculture group, which links consumers directly with a local farm at the beginning of a growing season. We pre-purchase produce for the season, and are shipped fresh vegetables and fruits every week. We never know what we’re going to get, but what we DO get tastes great.
Before we joined the CSA, I disliked tomatoes. They were a favorite when I was growing up, but by the time I hit adulthood they had fallen out of favor. When we started receiving our CSA tomatoes my opinion changed immediately. Fresh, locally grown heirloom tomatoes tasted like the tomatoes from my childhood – delicious.
We also started buying meat, eggs and dairy from a group that went out to Virginia-based small, sustainable farms and brings them up to Northern Virginia. The group is called The Local Flavor.
I’ve really enjoyed learning about my food, and really thinking about the way I eat. What I have yet to do is meet my farmers. So in the next 2 weeks I’ll be going to visit the place we get most of our fruits and vegetables and most of our meat, dairy and eggs. That’s my personal green goal at the moment.
Again, I’m not evangelizing here. I just wanted to share some of my own personal thoughts and green goals. I thought it would be a nice break from talking business, and a different way of celebrating Earth Day. Everybody has their own story to tell. This is a small piece of mine.
Photo by Hartwig HKD