14 June 2006

What to do?

I left home early this morning to get down to the Union Square Greenmarket before work. I'm having friends over for dinner, and the Greenmarket is the only place I've been able to find the shelled peas I need for the green-pea-and-mint pasta dish I'm planning.

But there's another reason I went out of my way. Yes, the produce at the Greenmarket (as the Union Square one is generically referred to, though there are several others throughout the city) is fresher and cheaper than anything you can get in a store, even a great store like Fairway. All the farmers come in from upstate New York or rural New Jersey, and chances are that the bunch of carrots I bought, and the quart strawberries, and the head of lettuce were all picked this morning, or yesterday at the earliest.

But it's the fact that it's coming from such a relatively short distance that has made me recommit to buying my fruit and veg locally. I've been thinking about this for years, but seeing Al Gore a couple of weeks ago at Town Hall (I haven't yet seen his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, but I saw the live presenation it's based on a few years ago), and reading Michael Pollan's blog about food politics have reinforced the point: everything we do, move, buy, eat and read uses oil. A bag of pre-washed lettuce from California may be organic and groovy (as well as easy), but once it's been trucked the country to my dinner plate, it's drenched in so much oil there's no need for salad dressing.

But it's hard, living life so conscientiously. I can go to the Greenmarket, sure. I can only eat meat I know the provenance of (I belong to a loose co-op that buys free-range beef from a farmer upstate). But where's the coffee I bought at the deli from? Or the pulp that makes the cardboard box that my strawberries are in? And don't even get me started about the economic situation of the people who are at the other end of the supply chain.


Blogger ra said...

small steps though. You do what you can. You can't save the world on your own but you can make a small difference. And the more people that make a small difference, the bigger the difference.

4:37 AM  

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