Here we break down produce to not only get you the freshest and sweetest, but considers environmental, animal and social welfare.
- LOCAL – As well as saving emissions from distant travel, the money you spend will stay in the local community. Often supermarkets purchase produce from farmer’s out of state or out of country. The Albertsons chain has over 2200 supermarkets in the U.S. under 19 different banners, including Safeway, Vons, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carr Safeway, and Pavilions, plus 49% share of Casa Ley, a Mexican grocery chain. But why support supermarket monopolies when we can invest in our own farmers?
- Let’s build up our communities rather than funneling it elsewhere. Buying from your local markets or farmer’s market when and if you can. Local ensures the freshest and sweetest fruits and veggies. (Sometimes at a better deal, too.)
- SEASONAL – Growing up, my sisters and I spent a few summers attempting to grow a small garden. Certain seeds needed to be planted earlier in the year, some seeds prefer warm months. But I never considered how supermarkets managed to have the same produce on the shelves year around. In order to do this, I was shocked to find out apples and potatoes can stay in storage for weeks or months before reaching the grocery store. This season produce guide breaks down which produce to buy and when, enabling nature to do the work.
- ORGANIC – For a time, the U.S. was swept away by the magic of pesticides in the mid 1950’s. Enough research shows that many pesticides were harmful not only to the pests, but humans, too. In 1962, marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson depicts the beauty of nature and the rise in man-made pollution in Silent Spring. Rather than using chemicals and artificial processes to grow produce and livestock, organic practices supports a healthier system, environment, and workplace for farm workers. Studies have documented elevated risks of chronic diseases linked to pesticides, including cancer, birth defects and learning disabilities. Nixing pesticides means enabling natural livestock behavior, self-sustaining cycles on the farm, and enhanced water and soil quality.
- SUSTAINABLE – Sustainable farming aims to maintain or increase output, while increasing the environmental benefits. This means understanding how the ecosystem works and providing diversity in crops that support soil fertility and biodiversity for future food production. Sustainable farming aims to protect native plants and animals. Sustainable agriculture supports organic and low carbon food, artificial fertilizers, artificial pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Some farms are making way in sustainable farming practices.
- HUMANE – Sustainable farmers aim to uphold animal welfare by removing restricting moving pens and cages. Typical factory farms with cramped spaces decrease the health of animals which require more antibiotics and support disease. The aim is to reduce or remove the pain and suffering animals may be subject to as part of the food production process. Buying organic meat means the animal has an organic diet and given antibiotics as needed. The U.S. has ranked second worst in a new farm animal cruelty index. We must continue to push our meat industry to do better. Though I do not encourage purchasing meat, surely picking free range and organic is better than not. We vote with our dollars.