No Impact Experiment: Food

I’m rather insistent that Bug’s summer vacation be educational as well as fun. I’m one of THOSE moms. This week, we’re taking part in the No Impact Experiment, a 1-week carbon cleanse, and learning (hopefully) why it’s important to be more conscious of the environmental impact of seemingly mundane daily decisions. 

Today’s challenge was about eating local, which is something we try to do all the time… but not exclusively. In other words, if I have the choice of buying a Washington apple or one shipped in from New Zealand, I’ll go with the Washington apple 99.9% of the time. But if I’m somewhere that only sells New Zealand apples, I won’t not buy an apple. I’m a lazy locavore.

On Wednesday, we wrote down everything we ate throughout the day and where it came from. (Of course, I wrote down the store name instead of location. I don’t know why I thought that was what was intended. Surely that’s what’s important: the name of store. Pssssh.) Today we reviewed the list, wrote down the city it came from, and were tasked with selecting 5 items that were not produced locally and swapping them out for 5 local items.

As it turns out, there were only 3 items on our list that were not local:

  1. turkey sandwich meat
  2. Pop chips
  3. tortillas
Note that these were all packaged foods, which we’re supposed to be avoiding anyway – so double bad on us. Normally I get our sandwich meat from a shop that sources local meats, but I hadn’t this time. This meat came all the way from Jersey, which kind of grosses me out on a few levels. The pop chips were a weak moment. And I have no idea how to purchase tortillas without a package. But, despite the packaging shame, I should be able to find local substitutes for all three of these things. I think. Actually, I’m not sure about the tortillas. I’ll have to look into that.
Next, we were tasked with defining our own food limits for the week. Will we only eat food produced within 100 miles of our home? Maybe go vegetarian or vegan for the week? We initially set our limit at 200 miles from home, but that proved difficult to follow in practice because once we were at the grocery store we had no way of knowing which cities fell inside those 200 miles. To make things easier, we decided anything from Washington or Oregon would be acceptable.
Our first local meal didn’t actually happen until dinner tonight. Breakfast and lunch were made of things already in the house – some of which weren’t local but were in danger of spoiling. I decided eating food with more impact would be better than wasting that food in favor of purchasing new food with less impact. So we only managed to pull off one 100% local meal today consisting of sausage, couscous, peas, mint, dill, garlic, eggs, sour cream, and beets – all produced in Washington with the exception of the couscous and sour cream, which came from Oregon.
Honestly, I live within walking distance of one pretty hippied out grocery co-op (Hi, PCC!) and another pretty yuppie grocery store, both of which carry a lot of locally sourced goods. I can also walk to an all local butcher. So buying local is actually fairly easy if I just put in a little extra effort. I’m struggling much more with packaging.




Filed under Environment, food, No Impact Experiment

2 responses to “No Impact Experiment: Food

  1. That’s a terrific achievement! I don’t think I’ve managed one entirely local meal yet, although I have no excuse — everything grows in California. I struggle with the packaging, too. The more time and effort I put in, the less packaging I need, since I start with raw ingredients. But I can’t cook from scratch every meal of every day, so I end up compromising on certain things that make my life easier, like frozen vegetables.

  2. Oh my god, I want to be one of THOSE mums later on! It must be even more fun to do No Impact with kids, great!!

    P.S. Package-free does work, like Jennifer says it’s just getting used to it. Cooking from scratch is actually nice if you think about it: back to real food 🙂

    Good luck with the rest of the week!

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