This has nothing to do with financing for the rest of us, unless you feel the same way about big banks as you do about big agriculture, so in case you do, I would like to introduce you all to the newest member of our team, our Special Issue Editorial Contributor, Michael Broady. Here’s his maiden piece. Hope you enjoy it. (Graphics still mine).
Maybe with Earth Day fast approaching, it wouldn’t hurt to be mindful of statistics like these:
– Conventional produce travels an average of 1,500 miles before getting to your grocery store.
Many of us are passionate about the world we live in; we’ve got opinions about the wars our country fights in, the way our institutions handle class, what our taxes go toward, the size and power of our government, etc. The list goes on. With so much discussion about Romney’s tax rate, it’s easy to lose focus on some of those things that we care about, and – more importantly – have a direct hand in effecting. Things like…food.
Let’s not forget that every week when we do our shopping, we buy products that may or may not be harvested or produced with sustainability in mind. If we care about our poor, our dependency on foreign oil, those wars, our own natural resources and air quality – the stuff we choose to eat is a great place to begin transforming those passions from smoldering opinion into productive action.
Aside from a lack of awareness of how our food system works, the other misconception is that healthy, organic, and local food is too expensive, and this is usually what prevents shoppers from taking sustainability into account. And, Whole Foods or Gelson’s can be expensive. There are two big buts to rebut the “I can’t afford it” claim though:
1) With a little searching, you’ll find that most farmer’s markets have at least a couple booths where produce and meat are really affordable. A big upside to buying direct from smaller farms is that you’re dealing with the person who sets the prices; get to know the people you’re buying from and you’ll be able to get deals you can’t make in a big supermarket. You might make a friend too. Not a farmer’s market in your area (doubtful)? Do a little search for the foods that are in season for your area and try to work them into your diet. You don’t have to be perfect but anything helps!
2) The money you save on buying industrial agriculture products (soy, corn, and other produce, using pesticides and without crop rotation, damaging soil), is entirely misleading. When we recognize the strain we’re putting on the environment, and our health, it’s difficult not to see how the cost for making thoughtless purchases in the supermarket is astronomically high – higher than shelling out an extra buck for those veggies. Eight times the amount of antibiotics used to treat disease in humans is used on animals for non-therapeutic purposes. Twenty-five million pounds. We’re all familiar with the medical community’s concern over antibiotic resistance, and I know over this last year we’ve all been clued in to the problems of higher health care costs, too. Higher antibiotic resistance = less effective medicine = health care costs increasing by billions. So…eat right, now = save some money later!
We can’t force the Buffet rule through congress, and we can’t endow the EPA with super powers, or regulate big banks the way we feel they should be. But we can do our part. It seems so small and inconsequential because it’s so very personal, but thinking twice about what we choose to buy at the grocery store is a big step toward changing our world and our future for the better, both environmentally and fiscally.