When I was a kid I would spend the summers with my grandparent. They lived in a village 4 miles away from the Danube river in a house with a big garden where practically every square foot of land was utilized growing something - they had orchard trees, a vineyard, a vegetable garden, a berry patch and a potato patch among others, with flowers and herbs filling the spaces in between. Every summer the garden would always overflow to a rented piece of land in the outskirts of the village where they would grow corn, beans, melons and watermelons, more veggies. The strategy was "pick, wash, eat". Everything we ate was fresh, grown within a mile, i.e. local, seasonal, and essentially organic. I hated it at the time (ah, the rebellions of youth) but in retrospect I don't think I will ever be able to tell my grandparents how grateful I am for having had the experience to spend the summers of my childhood with them.
But enough of ancient history, the point I am trying to make is that the way my grandparents used to (and still do) put food on the table is distinctly different from the road food travels to the tables of most industrialized countries today. And I mean this quite literally. In the U.S., the average grocery store’s produce travels between 1,500 and 2500 miles between the farm where it was grown and your refrigerator (Worldwatch Institute). Furthermore, before it reaches our tables, that food has been genetically modified, chemically treated and sometimes processed beyond recognition. Our ability to ship food from anywhere to anywhere is creating a huge carbon footprint and hurting local growers. Our ability to grow any type of produce out of season results in food which is not as nutritious and flavorful as when grown naturally and in season (and even more chemically laden). Finally, the disconnect between producer and consumer facilitates exploitative treatment of (workers in) developing countries by developed countries.
I am not going to advocate that everyone of you grabs a shovel and start laying the drip irrigation for a garden, while feeling guilty for all the sins you've done. No way. However, I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I would like to explore the (growing) opportunities to eat safely, ethically and environmentally friendly (hopefully without breaking the bank).
The topic is indeed quite large and this will probably be a series of posts while I am researching the different topics for my own benefit and sharing my findings.
Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, advise, experiences and practices are welcome and encouraged.