The Lifecycle of Your Dinner
Have you ever looked at your favorite pasta dish or a fabulous chocolate layer cake and wondered just how much time and how many resources went into getting those wonders of taste and calories from the farm to the table?
By now, many of us have heard the statistic that the average meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to table. If you dig a little deeper, you will find that there are many costs – some obvious, others hidden – to every morsel we consume.
With a little exploration, you will find that there are many easy ways to save money, energy and even time in your quest for a more delicious and eco-conscious meal.
Buy in bulk and reuse bags
Farmers markets are always great places to bring your own bags and buy just the amount you need, but more and more grocery stores are also expanding their bulk sections. Everything from olive oil to granola can now be purchased in bulk, which greatly reduces the need for conventional packaging.
Even in the grocery store, reconsider whether or not you need each item of produce to go in an individual plastic bag. And, of course, be sure to bring your own reusable bags and purchase items with the least amount of packaging.
The Three R’s of food waste
Even with food, the rules of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle apply. According to the EPA, it is possible to greatly reduce the amount of both food waste and wasted food by following their simple hierarchy.
The first and most important step is to avoid overproduction and purchasing in the first place (reduce). After that, you should look to provide excess food to needy people first, then animals, then to industrial sources (reuse). Finally, you should look to compost scraps that cannot be reused in any way. That compost can then be put to use as fertilizer for new crops (recycle).
Take your food full circle
Composting is the perfect way to complete the lifecycle of your dinner because it leaves minimal impact on the environment and creates great food for next season’s meals. Food thrown in the trash releases methane, a global warming gas, as it decomposes in the anaerobic environment of the landfill. A home composting system is quick and easy to construct, and more and more municipalities are adding compost collection to their services.