Here is Freya yesterday at the plot, with lilacs — my favorites. We here are all tickled because yesterday she successfully ate her first solid food, rice cereal. It was the third attempt and she really got it down and was tucking in like a champ.
On the garden front, the radishes are looking bigger and better every day, we ate the first few spinach leaves of the season (delicious), and those peas keep striving upward.
So it seems like an opportune time to really consider why I’m set on feeding Freya the best I can, whether it be homegrown or organic, hormone- and pesticide free, and how these choices affect climate change. I know they do so on a really very small scale, but, nonetheless, it’s there — everybody emits. (I smell a new children’s book in that one!)
I read an old article in the New Yorker that made this point: It’s oversimplified to judge the food you buy simply by the miles it’s traveled because, sometimes, organic and locally-grown produce has a larger carbon footprint than crops shipped in from abroad. Example: New Zealand inherently has a better climate and greener energy sources for growing many fruit crops; if your aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, buy the produce grown outdoors in New Zealand instead of that grown in an energy-hogging greenhouse locally. This is the case if you live in New England, anyway.
Then, this month, Wired appoints itself environmentalist myth buster and makes some provocative declarations. Example: “Don’t buy organic.” Their argument is that organically-raised meat and dairy cattle produce less for market while producing more methane. (In short, it takes something like 25 organic cows to produce the milk of 23 artificially-supplemented cows, so the organic method requires that many more belching and pooting cattle.)
Apparently, the current revelation is that the organic labels (that I so love) do not reveal unpleasant truths about carbon footprints. Now, personally, I’m not very impressed by Wired‘s green cow example, because I try to buy organically-raised meat for a completely different reason — namely, because I don’t like the idea of us ingesting a lot of artificial growth hormones. I don’t really consider greenhouse-gas emissions at all, here.
The New Yorker article gave me pause, though. I’ve written here in this very same blog that I tried to buy seeds from New England companies, just generalizing that it was probably better to buy something that hadn’t traveled from Timbuktu. Turns out, that was grossly oversimplifying it. I had a hunch I didn’t really know what was behind it all.
Well, where does that leave us, eating as we do every day, about four or six times, while very much wanting to think more about reducing greenhouse-gas emissions? Very firmly in the “grow seasonal, eat seasonal” corner. I don’t really want to know how far my seeds have traveled, because, now that they’re in the ground, I’m growing something that will only travel from there to here, probably in my backpack or Freya’s stroller. In future years, though, I am going to grow heirloom; It seems like the best of all worlds to grow plants that I can harvest seeds from for use in future years, effectively perpetuating my little foot-powered flood empire.
And I really want to expand on the homegrown fruits and vegetables (strawberries, winter crops, and just more of everything, in general), because then I’ll learn more about what’s seasonal and where my money goes at the grocery store. I will probably always buy bananas flown in from a hotter country and meat that doesn’t eat itself or a lot of hormones, at the price of greater gas emissions. But. It feels good to be joining the ranks of the self-aware and conscious choice-makers. I’m becoming a backyard locavore. Plotavore, anyone?!