In September, I challenged you to be mindful about eating and focus your attention on your meal. Mindful eating however, isn’t only about tasting, it isn’t only about analysing the flavours and smells. Those are some of the elements. Another one, is to pay attention to how the food is being made and to the origin of it. When eating, think about the journey the food had to take before entering your kitchen. Look at it globally, as the whole process, not the end effect. Following this thought, you realize, that what will land on your plate it’s completely up to you. You choose the impact on environment. In this way, mindfulness spreads out from a table to other people and nature. Here are some aspects, which you might help you making good choices. As an aware consumer you have a chance to positively influence the world.
In shops, there are many fruits and vegetables from around the world and we rarely even notice it. But maybe it’s better to take a moment and actually think about it? Why buying cherries from Canada or grapes from Peru when there are planty of them in Europe? By choosing local suppliers you support family enterprises. You help people, who grow fruits and vegetables in a small scale and who struggle to compete with big companies. In addition, or mainly because of that, you protect natural environment. It’s easy to see a difference between the amount of petrol needed to transport goods from another continent and from next door. Of course, neither kiwi nor mango can be grown in Europe, however, whenever possible, choose products from local markets.
Often a following argument comes up: apples are imported from other continents because they don’t grow in Europe all year long. They don’t, but we can easily store them through Winter and early Spring. Soon after, the end of Spring and Summer bring new juicy, flavorful strawberries, cherries, raspberries and other fruits. Nobody needs to eat apples all year long. The same way as nobody needs strawberries in the winter, it is possible to resist and wait for few months. Consider eating seasonal food and limit the pollution.
Whenever you buy an imported product, such as for example cocoa, coffee or bananas, check if they come from plantations with Fair Trade certificate (and their products are labeled with Fair Trade Logo). It is a recognision for producers meeting certain trade and labor criteria and taking care about suistainability. Choosing their products you help improving the labor standards and protect the environment.
Every now and then we hear about discoveries of incrediblly healthy food, which have been used since always by the indigenous of the regions, the food come from. The most popular in the recent years were spiruline, goji berries or chia seeds. We call them super food, because they are full of vitamines, minerals or omega 3 oils. It’s worth analysing those news and not following the fashion blindly. Before you do the shopping, look for local replacements and compare them with super food. It turns out that Europe is full of healthy goods. And so, spiruline can be easily replaced by spinach, parsley leaves or broccoli. Cranberry is a great substitute of goji berries. Instead of buying chia seeds imported from South America, add flaxseeds to your basket.
In addition to the previous arguments for buying local food, there are at least two more. Over the initial period of time, increased demand on super food results in higher prices. It’s excellent for producers and sellers, but not so great for locals, who don’t grow the food, but for whom it’s part of a daily diet. This is actually the case for local consumers of acai, which is endemic to amazon jungle in Brasil. It’s limited population rises the price even more.
Moreover, in the long term, higher demand has a negative impact on natural environment. You can see it based on famous quinoa, grown in Peru and Bolivia. In order to increase the cultivation and profits, the farmers widen fields and cut the fallow time. This causes the land waste and corrosion.
I won’t urge you to change the nurishment drastically, not to give up all imported products. I want to encourage you to be mindful and aware, to think about ecology, about the way you impact the social and natural environment. Make wise choices.