From Field To Fork, To Eating Locally And Seasonally

From Field To Fork, To Eating Locally And Seasonally

A rudimentary explanation of how our food system is impacting the environment.

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When you walk through the produce section at the grocery store you are guaranteed a colorful array of fruits and veggies. The origin of product ranges from hundreds of miles away to thousands of miles across oceans and continents. Our current food system relies on importing and exporting around the globe. This system allows us to put food on our tables that are locally out of season. Carbon dioxide emissions from transporting these goods heavily pollute the environment. I blame the astronomically high demand for an unnecessary variety of food options to play a large role in anthropocentric climate change.

Where do foods come from when they aren't in season?

A huge contributor to global warming is the transportation associated with distributing food around the globe. During March in Washington State, the produce in season is brussels sprouts, celery root, garlic scapes, horseradish, lamb's quarter, leeks, mushrooms, nettles, parsnips, potatoes, purslane, rapini, sorrel, sprouts sunchokes, and turnips. However, when you look around the supermarket you'll find products such as avocados, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, peppers, and many others that are transported here from far away. According to the USDA, Canada and Mexico are the largest suppliers of United States agriculture products, followed by the European Union.

Imported goods the United States receive are products Western society has placed a high value upon; confusing luxury with necessity. The USDA reports imported goods such as coffee/cocoa/spices and fish/shellfish are among those luxury items Americans have increased their demand for. Which isn't to say people should never drink coffee or eat the occasional chocolate. It's time we reconsider our consumption levels and consider how our indulgences are impacting the environment we live in today, and how it will affect the environment of the future.

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Eat locally and seasonally, your taste buds will thank you.

On an individual level, we can limit our impact on the environment by eating locally and seasonally. Eating food that's in season requires you to purchase locally grown foods. Supporting local farms keeps your money in the local economy and significantly cuts down on transportation. This change in behavior would help minimize our contribution to anthropocentric climate change. Don't worry, there aren't only environmental benefits to eating seasonally. Our seasonal options during the colder months will seem to limit initially. On the bright side, seasonal eating allows you to discover new foods which are fresher and tastier than anything shipped from around the world. Imagine biting into a strawberry or apple a few days after harvest versus a few weeks; the proof is in the flavor!

A solution of mutual accommodation.

Our current food system is entirely unsustainable; built on the increasing demand for luxury goods from around the globe. It didn't use to be like this. Societies survived for thousands of years on locally and seasonally sourced resources. Of course, the world's population is much larger today than it was a few hundred years ago, it's not unrealistic to strive to eat seasonally to help limit our environmental footprint. On a larger scale, innovative policy change is long overdue. Pollution is an American public health issue as well as a global health issue. This issue is full of complexity which requires a certain level of mutual accommodation. However, it is unrealistic to expect individuals to eat 100% seasonally all the time. To achieve the same goal of minimizing anthropocentric climate change and to improve public health, through individual and governmental cooperation we can meet in the middle to find an accommodating solution for everyone.

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To The Girl Who Doesn't Party In College

They are rare, I know.
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I know what you all are thinking, she is just writing the article to brag on herself or to show the world the kind of person she is. No, I am writing this article to the girl out there who feels as if she is alone.

Not being a part of the party season is not the most popular thing to do on a college campus.

Most people spend their days thinking about what they will do at night. Life pretty much revolves around the next party. But for people like me, it isn't spent thinking about alcohol or the next party I'm going to attend. And that can get pretty lonely.

It is not like I sit and wallow in my sadness or ever feel like my friends leave me out because I don't drink. I have great friends that support every decision I make.

But, some are not that lucky.

Some girls don't have the support system like me and I am here to tell you to never compromise the person you want to be just because you don't fit in. If you don't want to party, don't give in just because your friends are pressuring you into. Not to sound cliche, but find new friends because they are not your real ones.

Choosing to stay true to you will pay off in the end, and you won't regret it. I promise.

I don't know why you choose to not attend the party scene, but I would be hindering my calling if I didn't tell you why I don't. I know this guy, and his name is Jesus. He is my best friend and the person I talk to about everything. It is because of Him that I decided to not party, to set an example for the people around me.

But, I am also not 21. So I don't think, by any means, that me having a margarita when I turn 21 is hurting my reputation or my testimony.

I firmly believe that alcohol isn't a sin when consumed in the right ways. I also don't ever see myself as a partier, 21 or not. Partying is a way of conforming and a way of becoming what this fallen world deems acceptable.

So to the girl who fails to be the typical college partier, I commend you. I look up to you. I respect you. I want you to know how rare you are. You choosing to not party and rise above the college standard is something you will never regret. I don't believe that my college years are boring because of the way I decide to live my life. I wish that I could befriend each and every girl relating to this article.

So, when those Friday nights get boring, remember that you are not alone. You are rising above the standard.

Sincerely,

The girl who doesn't party in college

Cover Image Credit: Krisztian Hadi / Flickr

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We Must Stop Denying The Reality Of Climate Change

Climate change has become more present in media discourse in recent years, but it's still a topic that's missing from our social narrative.

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Now, it is more essential than ever that we as humans believe the scientists who attest to climate change and speak up in favor of policy intended to ameliorate the crisis. So, why do so many people in America and around the world deny climate change?

It's science 101: debates about a hypothesis can exist indefinitely. It gets even more complicated when you try to separate theory from fact. Global warming is a scientific fact. There is evidence to prove that the world's global temperature has increased significantly in the last century. Anthropogenic climate change is, however, still a scientific theory. Although huge numbers of scientists attest to its validity, it's standing as only a "theory" leaves room for denial and disregard. In a Forbes article, Marshall Shepherd cites a 2011 study published in the Journal of Risk Research asking why members of the public held such strong opinions opposing theories scientists largely agreed upon.

"They find that something called "cultural cognition of risk" helps to inform individuals' beliefs about science, consensus, and related processes. They point out that a collection of psychological mechanisms allows some people to selectively accept or dismiss scientific information in ways that fit with others. For example, though a large percentage of scientists might conclude that anthropogenic climate change or vaccination denial are threats, cultural cognition of risk might cause a person to believe a smaller minority of scientists that align with their perspective," Shepherd writes.

Listen to his TED Talk here.

So, it's psychologically sound for the denial of climate change to be so common. However, we must transform our social narratives to include climate change in order to solve the problem. Without brutal honesty and frequent reminders about the problem, humans simply will not find the time to care about climate change despite its relevance and urgency. We all get overwhelmed with work, school, family, and friends. This certainly isn't to say that people don't care. Recycling rates have been approximately tripled since 1990, according to this EPA information. And plenty of people have adapted their lifestyles to reduce their plastic usage or even to go completely zero-waste.

Nonetheless, the changes in society and policy that are necessary for reducing our impact on the planet are not taking place. Stories in the media concerning the deaths of whales and the melting of ice caps spark fear in many people, yet they're issues that seem distant and unsolvable. People vote for candidates and bills that set us even further back and pay no thought to the fact that those politicians don't see our survival as a priority. Even the 2018 IPCC report's 2030 deadline was not monumental enough to create the broad scale change that we need to see to reduce our carbon emissions by then. Already phased out of the media, the report's findings are hardly present in anyone's discourse just five months after its release. So how is the public supposed to care about the topic when we don't even talk about it on a daily basis?

In order to make policy changes that are imperative to the transition to sustainable production methods and the reduction of our carbon emissions, we must include the topic of anthropogenic climate change in our social and daily narratives. Without constant reminders about the problem and discussions about logical solutions, no change will be made in policy or industry. So, don't be afraid to talk about climate change in any setting, with anyone or at any time. There is never a bad time to bring up global climate change as a real threat and a problem that we must turn our attention to. The focus should be on the big issues; keep climate change in mind as a factor in every aspect of your life and advocate for the planet, who can't speak up for itself.

"We often assume that political activism requires an explanation, while inactivity is the normal state of affairs. But it can be as difficult to ignore a problem as to try to solve it, to curtail feelings of empathy as to extend them. . . . If there is no exit from the political world then political silence must be as active and colorful as a bright summer shadow." — Nina Eliasoph, "Avoiding Politics"

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