Monday, October 19, 2009

Lighthearted Locavore "No Impact" Consumption

Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): Southampton Farmers Market, early Fall

Day 1: No Impact Experiment. Think about doing more with less with the goal of no new purchases this week.

I'm supposed to try to use what I have, borrow what I need or buy used not new stuff, when possible.

Since I’m not much into hoarding consumer goods (although I am sure that I have many more books, CDs, DVDs, kitchenware, health beauty aids, clothes, electronics than I really need), being the lighthearted locavore I confess to buying and storing way more food than is necessary. I buy a lot of locally grown and locally made foods but I do have my fair share of products from as far away as California, Italy and Japan.

I probably throw too much away -- food and packaging.

I decided to take inventory and conduct a “pantry review” so I could figure out how to get through the week without buying much, but also to take stock of the high carbon/high impact items that I know are lurking in my kitchen.

The review raised more questions than answers. Many of which I hope to answer this week.

In the freezer...

Where does Citarella buy their organic chicken? How inconvenient would it be for me to commit to buying locally grown chicken 100% all year round? Can I get my family to eat less meat and chicken and more grains and vegetables?

Is that pound of French Roast Coffee from Starbucks Fair Trade? Was it processed and shipped in a way that is good for the environment and provides a fair wage? What does fair trade mean in terms of no impact?

Are the Thomas’ English Muffins that my stepson adores made with genetically modified ingredients? Where are they manufactured? The label doesn’t tell me anything about where the ingredients came from. Can I convince 12-year old to eat locally made, multigrain bread from the farmers market so I can be sure he's getting a nutritious meal?

What delicious, seasonal and local ingredients can I cook with the locally raised pheasants that have been in the freezer since Spring that I want to eat soon before it goes bad?

Mmmm…. frozen, smoothie worthy and local strawberries labeled 06/09 on the bottom shelf.

In the refrigerator…

Perhaps I’ll use some red current jelly with the pheasant to give it a fruity taste. Is there a local jam producer who makes red current jelly or is my only choice the English brand that most likely was delivered via airplane to New York?

Can I make the Asian sauces I have in my refrigerator with American grown ingredients or do I have to buy soy sauces, vinegar and mirin imported from Japan? Is there a substitute for Tamarind Paste?

Two drawers stocked with low impact, seasonal and organic apples, pears, concord grapes, greens, root vegetables, onions, garlic, carrots, radishes, beets, sweet potatoes, white potatoes and more from Chubby Bunny CSA and the Southampton Farmers Market. Plus some lemons, ginger, grapefruit and oranges. AND, herbs from my garden. A new CSA box is on its way.

And organic milk, butter, and imported cheese. Where can I buy a local Parmesan Cheese that tastes good? Are all organic dairy products the same? Do some brands have a lower carbon footprint based on how the cows live and what they eat?

In the beverage refrigerator…

Despite living in a city where I have access to probably the most delicious tap water in the US, I’m totally guilty and embarrassed to admit that our beverage cooler is filled with sparkling water imported from Italy in tall PLASTIC bottles, as well as other beverages that traveled a long distance to my upper west side apartment!!! How insane is that? Will I have the winning bid for the ISI brand 1000 ml soda maker (second hand of course) on EBAY? Can I really reduce the carbon footprint of the beverages I consume using carbon dioxide cartridges or am just I kidding myself? Can I get my family to drink more tap water and less soda water without my husband leading a water rebellion? Should I drink the San Pellegrino water this week or should I just give it away?

Will I ever get my husband to drink Long Island wine or will he forever be a California wine devotee?

The pantry…

Well stocked with organic canned goods – tomatoes, vegetable and chicken broth, organic tea, rice and pasta, peanut butter, flour and lots of herbs and spices. Olive oil from California, vinegar made on Long Island, Southampton honey, bags of dried beans, quinoa, and Quaker Oats brand Grits. Can I do better than Ronzoni whole wheat for pasta with a low carbon footprint and good nutrition?

What do I need to do to REMEMBER TO TAKE THE CLOTH BAGS TO THE GROCERY STORE and FARMERS MARKET so I stop using plastic bags.

I have a lot to do to clean up my kitchen!!!

TOMORROW IS TRASH DAY.....more food for thought.

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