Excuse the reference to Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals but that book is partially responsible for my current quandary. I also attribute a portion of my plight to those darn fake plastic fish, a handful of environmentally relevant books and a cantankerous blog. Before reading all of the above, I was blissfully ignorant as I pushed my cart through Whole Foods toting my "green bags". I didn't stay that way though and here's why:
I like to read . . . a lot. I've read more green books and blogs than I care to count. I'm hungry for ways to live more lightly but, the more information I gather, the more I find myself faced with heavier decisions about the smallest aspects of daily living.
For instance, after reading Plenty: One Man, One Woman and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I embraced eating locally. Shipping food around the world is not good for the food or the planet. The food becomes tasteless and the planet polluted. A trip to the farmer's market taught me that it is no hardship to eat within my own foodshed. In fact, take a peek at my side-bar poll and you'll find that most people, who have tried eating locally, love it.
Next, I gobbled up Omnivore's Dilemma, and realized the importance of how food is produced. Industrial food - be it conventional or organic - takes a tougher toll on the earth than that produced on small organic family farms. Animals raised in an industrial setting invariably endure unhealthy, miserable but short lives. Moreover, just because an organization calls itself a "small family farm" doesn't mean it is - especially if they are selling at a major grocery chain. I always bought my local, organic, free range eggs from Judy's Family Farms (at Whole Foods) and was charmed by the description of rolling hills, red chicken coops and idyllic little hens. Click here to learn the truth behind that fairy tale. Having my eyes opened by Omnivore's Dilemma meant I now had to weigh methods of food production as well as food miles.
Then along came Beth in her Fake Plastic Fish Tank and that difficult one, the Arduous Blog, to reveal the trash on recycling "recyclable plastic." It has the right number on the back, you put it in your recycling bin and feel all good that you've done your part to save the Earth but what happens next will surprise you. Click here to learn how plastic is recycled (mixed plastic can only be recycled one time) and here to see where it is recycled (betcha can't guess).
So, how does the ecologically conscious, well informed consumer shop for food? Very slowly. Right now I find myself practically paralyzed over what kind of milk to buy. Do I go for milk in the reusable glass bottle from the local organic dairy which markets itself as a "small family farm" but probably isn't? Or the smallish local family farm that sells it's organic, pastured raw milk in mountains of plastic through a small co-op? Is there just too much information out there? Are there real benefits to educating ourselves or is it just too overwhelming? Too many factors to consider in just living?
Maybe ignorance was bliss but it's no way to make a decision. I'll muddle through this environmental dilemma one way or another and keep on reading. In my book, there's no such thing as too much information. Isn't that how we ended up here to begin with?