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Something practical

Por Mariel Fiori
April 2023
The mantra is: reduce, reuse and recycle, in that order. Although it hurts capitalism, our pockets and the planet will be happier. These days I was reading a little book written by the journalist Kate Bratskeir, A pocket guide to sustainable food shopping. Taking advantage of the fact that in April we celebrate our Mother Earth, and that the cover illustration by Yadriel Lagunes reminds us of the painful reality that we are approaching the point of no return (to learn more about this term, I invite you to read the note by Nohan Meza in this month's environmental section), I am going to give you some practical advice that Bratskeir reminds us of.

For a decade, in my house, we have had solar panels on the roof that give us the necessary electricity for all the appliances, lights, water heater, and heating and air conditioning systems. We still have a gas stove, but that will change in the not-too-distant future. For an even longer time, we have had some plastic boxes to make compost with organic kitchen waste in our little piece of backyard. It is something magical every season to see how our compost pile transforms dry leaves, egg and orange peels and so many other leftovers from food preparation into fertile soil: humus loaded with worms, which we deposit in our flowerbeds this month. to grow tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, strawberries, and blackberries. Because we compost much of our organic waste (but not bones, cheese, and meats) and religiously recycle paper, cardboard, glass, and metal, our weekly trash bag is a small bag (about one or two soccer balls size).

And even though we reduce the amount of weekly garbage, my family and I are still generating garbage that ends up in the landfill. And this is precisely the first thing that Bratskier tells us about in his pocket guide. How about doing an audit of our trash? What do we throw away the most? What can we do to reduce this? Some things that are consumed too much and that we could all change in this same week: individual packages of snacks; plastic cutlery and other utensils discarded after one use; fruits and vegetables that are sold wrapped in individual plastic packages in the supermarket. Some picnic options that cost little or nothing and reduce the amount of trash: prepare snacks at home and put them in reusable containers; always have a set of reusable cutlery on hand, including a personal straw for when we buy take-out food or go to a picnic; buy loose vegetables (no pre-washed lettuce) whenever possible and remember to bring your own bags.

Speaking of food, in the United States 40% of food is wasted. Much of it is our fault: we buy too much food, which spoils before we can eat it. Here the first piece of advice comes in handy again: reduce. That is, buy less, buy only what is needed, and make a list before leaving home, so as not to be tempted by all the shiny and beautiful things that they want to sell us. I say this from experience, the temptation is great, but the refrigerator and the pocket are not so much.

OK, we got to the supermarket, and we already had our list and our reusable bags. We are interested in eating healthy and sustainable. Do we choose organic? Or Local? The author recommends both options: when it's farmers market season (do you know farmers markets and CSA?), it's better to buy local because we can ask the vendors who are the farmers themselves questions and also because that way, we support the local economy. Some say it is more regenerative. If we can, organic is an excellent option, of course.

The truth is that large food-producing corporations know that consumers are more attentive to our health. So, they go and put up little signs like this: natural, healthy, superfood, plant-based, bio-plastic, degradable, farm-fresh, happy chickens, etc. Advice: ignore them. These statements have no legal value, the United States Food Administration, FDA, does not certify any of these categories. Look instead for those that are certified by a third party, such as the USDA. A good resource is the Center for Science in the Public Interest website, Bratskeir also teaches us to buy meat (better not, and it is best to reduce its consumption because it is most polluting), eggs, fish, and even alternatives to milk. Read to find out.
Do you have other practical tips to reduce our environmental impact? Write to us at mailto:[email protected] and make your voice heard!
Mariel Fiori

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La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson



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