Where Did My Produce Come From?

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After a long day’s work, eleven hours to be exact, I come home only to aimlessly stare into the open refrigerator and kitchen pantry, attempting to answer the age-old question: “What’s for dinner?” My blank, empty stare continues as I search through the fridge, the pantry, and then back to the fridge again. Finally, I decide to roast some flavorful vegetables, and cook some rice to create a quick stir-fry dish. I use a few handfuls of organic, locally grown snow peas and swiss chard from my bin delivery (i.e., Green BEAN Delivery ), a few handfuls of diced organic zucchini, shredded carrots, and yellow peppers from my local grocery store’s organic section, as well as a pinch of fresh basil from the garden. In addition, I heat-up a serving of Seeds of Change  multi-grain rice. Then, as I stand over the stove tossing the vegetables to achieve an even consistency, I start to think, “How far did this produce travel to make it to my plate, and at what expense to the environment?” According to Michael Pollan , who premiered in the documentary Food, Inc. , an average U.S. dinner travels around 1,500 miles from its source to our plate, while locally grown food only travels around 100 miles (see diagrams on pages 3-4). I continued to question the food chain  and the environment in which produced the very food I was about to consume. I reach for my iPhone first to check my Locavore and Eat Local  apps to understand what produce is in season in Kentucky, and then to call my father. As a farmer, he would know where zucchini and yellow peppers are being grown and harvested this time of year. Throughout our call, my father describes the process from harvest to processing plant, to distribution center, to grocery store or even a restaurant. He explains that in conventional farming techniques , which use pesticides , insecticides , and fertilizers , vegetables like lettuce (one of the dirty dozen  relating to pesticides and produce), can take twenty-one days to go from harvest to end consumer. I question how this is possible, and why so much time is necessary. My father reveals that it is possible because modern methods  are used to slow down the growth process once harvested, and that, ironically, time is needed to properly wash the vegetables for safety since pesticides , insecticides , and chemical fertilizers  were utilized. I ask what the process is like for locally grown produce, and he quickly says that the time from harvest to end consumer is about eight to fifteen days. I am still not satisfied, as there has to be a way to eat healthy without negatively impacting the environment from conventional farming techniques. Although eating local aids in limiting the transportation  of food  for the sole purpose of eating produce out of season , to the point that seasons  do not exist within the food chain, it is not a holistic approach. This curiosity eventually led me to the environmentalist  and green movements  that are intertwined within ecofeminism . I want to explore the nexus between humankind and the environment, and follow in my father’s footsteps by growing my own organically raised garden . In turn, I will not have to question where my produce comes from, and instead I will adapt to be a locavore, whose produce comes from a local resource: my family’s own backyard. I will know that no pesticides, insecticides, or chemical fertilizers  were used, that gallons of oil  were not wasted to supply my food, and that the earth was not destroyed in order for me to have produce on my plate.

 

Food, Inc. Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eKYyD14d_0 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXmF_erEv1o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmrfrsnWng8&feature=relmfu

          

Photo Source: Jessica Green (Family Garden)

Photo Source: http://www.good.is/infographics/

Photo Source: http://www.good.is/infographics/

Photo Source: http://www.jen-drivenbydesign.com/

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