Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

In the summer, I do the majority of my grocery shopping at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

I am trying to buy organic, local food. Sometimes it’s easy. I bought a bag of flour at the Market, and when I asked if it was Saskatchewan wheat, the vendor could tell me the four locations in Saskatchewan where the wheat had been grown, including a farm 12 miles from his home.

But it’s not always that easy. Do I buy local strawberries at the Market, which may not be organic, or do I buy organic strawberries from the United States? Do I non-organic apples sold from a van at the Market, or do I buy organic apples from New Zealand?

I try to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables, but that’s difficult in Saskatchewan. I know I would be more successful if I bought a large freezer and spent the summer canning and freezing food to eat in the winter. But I don’t want to. I will eat lots of cabbage and potatoes and beets this winter, but I’ll supplement it with fresh or frozen greens and fruits and vegetables from other parts of the globe.

Buying wine is a humorous exercise in making choices. Can I find a BC wine (the most local) that is organic, low in alcohol, one of the varietals that I enjoy, and cheap? I don’t usually meet all the criteria.

If I buy convenience foods, what should I choose? Should I stop buying soup in a can when I know that the liners in most cans contain bisphenol-A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor that has been linked to a range of human health and environmental problems? Is it okay to buy tetra paks, or do they create too much waste? And what do I know about the company's labour practices?

I try to buy organic cheese or else gourmet cheeses, which are not necessarily local or organic food, but at least they’re not being produced by huge multinational conglomerates. I’m not rich enough to buy only artisan cheeses, and I haven’t seen any Saskatchewan artisan cheeses on the market.

I care about what I put inside my body. I care about environmental sustainability. I care about supporting small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs. But I break all those principles on a regular basis. How about you?

1 comment:

Stephanie V said...

You're doing a much better job than I am of eating locally. I'm not so picky about having all my food organic but local usually means the same thing. So while the fresh local products are available, I buy them. And I'm not happy to eat cabbage and beets all winter so I will buy foreign-grown fruit and veg.

I would have been shocked if you could not buy Saskatchewan wheat! Even here, those who want to can find local wheat flour.