Friday, April 10, 2009

Environmental Randomnimity

Unintentionally Low Carbon Footprint

...we have one. It's unintentional because we do a lot of the "environmentally friendly" things because it benefits us, as I've discussed here before. We cook from scratch as much as possible because it's generally healthier and cheaper. We compost because, well, it all ends up becoming free compost. (never mind that composting itself probably produces the oft-maligned "greenhouse gases.") We garden because it's fun, rewarding, and good for our health. Our main car, which is not a hybrid, is very fuel efficient (a couple of tanks ago, I got 41 miles per gallon!) and it saves us money. We are a one income couple because we feel that the benefits of Harmony staying home far outweigh the benefits of having more money at the cost of having busier lives.

Much Easier to be an Enviro-Radical Food Snob These Days

(The following are mostly unresearched thoughts.)

It seems to me that it is much easier for some slightly concerned person to be an enviro-radical food snob (ERFS) these days, because it only slightly inconveniences. For clarification, I'll define ERFS as a person who seeks to make an environmental or political statement by buying organic foods whenever possible. (In the interest of full honesty, we are probably food snobs to an extent, although definitely not enviro-radical; generally, we eat what's put before us without raising questions of conscience.) I'd imagine that if you were an ERFS back in the day and had a craving for chocolate* or Doritos, you'd either have to make it yourself or do without. Which brings me to my point.

It is much easier to be an ERFS in this day and age, where the organic grocery stores have their own versions of pretty much everything you'd find in a regular grocery store. Processed cereals, granola bars, chips, frozen dinners, you name it and they probably have it somewhere.** Aside from having to part with more money, the typical busy two income couple could switch from conventional to organic with microscopic effort.

I wonder how many contemporary ERFSs would "fall away" from their convictions if convenient organic foods all of a sudden disappeared. You want cookies or cake? Gotta make it yourself. You want a quick and easy dinner but don't want to cook? The food snob part of you must go into hiding so you can head to McDonald's or Applebee's or wherever.

* - Chocolate? Hardly the environmentally friendly food for U.S. residents, if you're concerned about food miles. The biggest source of cacao is Africa and Central/South America. Say bye to bananas too. And off-season produce.

** - never mind the fact that those items share the following things with their conventional brethren: are just as processed, probably require the same amount of infrastructure and logistics (a.k.a. petroleum) to get to the shelves, and probably have the same packaging materials.

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