Simple Acts: From Your Table to Your Community
By Marikay Shellman, BPW Colorado, NFBPWC Environment and Sustainable Development Committee Chair (2022-2024)
Growing up in Florida, my mother would take me to the local farmer stands to purchase vegetables. “They taste much better because they are fresh”, she would say. And how true that still rings today. Our supermarkets advertise their “fresh produce”, but the food is often grown thousands of miles away or in another country, picked well before it has ripened, stored in warehouses, shipped over miles, and placed on your grocery store shelves. By the time this “fresh produce” hits your table, it is typically days if not a week or more old.
Farmers Markets provide fruits & vegetables that are grown seasonally and grown near to where you live, therefore keeping your food money in your community and providing you with real fresh produce. When you eat what is in season food is at its most nutritious in addition to tasting delicious. Those fresh peas & spinach in the Spring, berries & tomatoes ripe in Summer, and crisp apples in the Fall are loaded with vitamins & minerals. Feast on butternut squash soups to keep yourself nourished in the harsh winter months. You are cutting your ecological footprint by purchasing your food from local farmers (food miles count for 11% of your meal’s carbon footprint.). Couple that with using reusable bags, not plastic packaging, voila. Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) have become a user-friendly way to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. The consumer purchases a share in a farmer’s product & receives a box weekly of seasonal produce throughout the season.
Opt for Organic! Organic foods are healthier for you, providing more beneficial nutrients, lowering levels of chemicals in your food, and containing no genetically modified (GMOs) ingredients. “Organic” defines the methods & materials used by farmers to grow & process farm products including vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products and meat. No synthetic or sewage sludge fertilizers are added to soil, no synthetic pesticides are used for pest control, no irradiation is used to preserve food or rid of pests, no genetic engineering of crops used for disease or pest control or to increase crop harvests, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are used for farm animals.
“Organic” does not mean the same thing as “natural.” Natural on a food label means only that the product has no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, having nothing to do with the way in which the food ingredients were grown. The labels “free-range” or “hormone-free” do not mean that these items were grown organically. Non organic foods are sprayed with extremely toxic chemicals which kill everything but the plant including beneficial insects and soil nutrients needed to grow the plant. Then, because the soil has no organisms or nutrients to provide plant growth, synthetic fertilizers are used. Millions of taxpayer dollars are handed out in subsidies for these extremely expensive, large scale, non-organic farming practices.
In purchasing organic foods, you are keeping toxins out of the air, out of the drinking water, and out of the soil. And remember, everything ends up in the ocean, leaching through soil into aquifers, into nearby rivers & lakes, into our landfills, and into our air.
Organic farming supports pollinators and we need pollinators to support life on earth. We need to maintain a level of biodiversity in plants, animals, insects, & birds.
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