Food for thought...

This is an article from an e-newsletter from Yogamates.com. I find it very interesting. I buy almost if not all my produce form a local produce mart. its not organic but it is a local small business. i always bring my backpack and a tote bag with me to both the produce mart and the grocery store. i never take home more than 2 plastic bags, that's still too much for me. what do i do with all of them? i don't eat to many processed foods, a little cheese here and there, and i rarely eat meat any more of any kind. i do not own a bike. i have nowhere to store it and Chicago traffic scares the crap out of me even when i am not in it. but if you must drive a car i think car sharing is the way to go or buy a hybrid. glass containers insead of plastics are much healthier as well particularly when you microwave. i find that living green is very expensive though and sometimes you have to concede to your pocket book and not to your conscience

From Zero to Hero: How to lose 50 pounds a day for the rest of your life
By Alastair Bland

To me, it always felt wrong; hauling my trash out to the sidewalk each Monday morning to let the garbage man whisk it away and then wiping my hands clean of the whole mess as though I’d done a proper and citizenly thing.

But my hands never did come fully clean. I was, after all, a direct and constant contributor to the world’s ever-growing garbage problem. And in spite of all my self-righteousness as an environmentalist, I was throwing away pounds and pounds of plastic, Styrofoam and otherwise non-biodegradable product packaging each week.

But on New Year’s Day, 2007, everything changed. I went cold turkey on trash, starting up a peculiar pattern of eating and shopping habits recommended to me by a friend in Santa Barbara. He called it the “Zero-Waste Diet.”

While the positive ramifications of this lifestyle shift are huge, the concept is baby-talk simple: produce zero waste, or as close to it as possible. And remarkably, following the diet is easy. I have not become an eccentric, and nothing I do to minimize my waste is extraordinary. I take a canvas bag shopping. I buy almost everything in bulk. I reuse old plastic bags and rarely accept new ones at the counter. I don’t touch products that come with unnecessary packaging. I recycle and compost. And I ride a bike almost everywhere. Many people, I understand, already advocate these practices. Following the diet just requires greater dedication and a never-ending diligence.

The diet has fostered in me an appreciation of simplicity. Processed foods, for example — with their long lists of ingredients and their implicit messy histories of mining, extraction, laboratories, machinery and fuel — have totally lost appeal. Simplicity also means cutting unnecessary steps and materials out of the equation, particularly products that dress themselves in shrink-wrap.

I’ve also begun to question the virtues of recycling. How much energy, I wonder, is required to melt down and reshape given amounts of glass, plastic and metal? Wouldn’t it be better to avoid these containers to begin with? Sure. Why not?

Transportation is a no-brainer for the ZW-dieter. Don’t drive. Just the idea of employing a 3000-pound vehicle to motor a 150-pound body of healthy muscle and bone across the neighborhood is funny. In a stupid way, I mean.

By contrast, riding a bike makes every bit of sense. A bicycle, for those unfamiliar, is a phenomenal 15- to 40-pound, two-wheeled, leg-powered vehicle that can carry a person at nearly the same speed as an automobile, silently, and with benefits for the body, mind and community.

But most aspects of the Zero-Waste Diet boil down to food. We all shop several times per week, so why not do so in a low-impact manner? I buy my herbs, spices, nuts, coffee, grains and other staples in bulk and in reused bags, and for large vegetables and fruits, I just carry them to the counter in my bike helmet.

And large supermarkets are out. Even the beloved Trader Joe’s packs nearly all of its produce, grains and legumes in plastic wrap and disposable boxes. This makes things happily convenient at the checkout stand, but to buy many foods from this giant retailer is to act in full-on contempt of the diet. Meanwhile, small, independent grocery stores that sell dried goods and produce plastic-free and by the pound are easily found in most neighborhoods. They carry all the essential building blocks of great food and a strengthened community. Support them, I say.

Last Monday morning before dawn I snuck out front with a hand-scale to weigh my neighbors’ trash. In one week, the five of them — fairly average citizens — produced 58 pounds. My own refuse, collected over an entire month, weighed just five-and-a-half.

What this means in the big scheme of things, I haven’t actually calculated, but it can’t be bad. Okay, I doubt Zero-Wasters will save the world, but one thing’s certain: my hands are pretty clean these days. How about yours?

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