My efforts to purchase and eat more sustainable organic and local foods leads me to shopping regularly at a local organic market that was established by a local fellow from College Park, Maryland. Now I think there are about 4 stores in the area, including one in Alexandria, Virginia. I go there for organic foods and recycled dry goods that I can’t find in other grocery stores. When I shop in the larger chain stores I always purchase the most eco-friendly products available. I’ve found they are stocking more and more such products. Another thing I do is I always bring my own reusable shopping bags, and I save and re-use the plastic produce bags.
– Lisa Bowen, Senior Director Global News Media
* * *
My first recommendation for anyone interested in eating local and organic is to eat more of what’s in season in your region since that reduces transportation costs and climate consequences. This has led my family and me down a fun path of cooking with new ingredients, eating what is freshest, learning how to store things in the fall and searching out local farmers markets.
– Aaron Bruner, Director, Conservation Incentives
* * *
Here are a few suggestions that we have incorporated into our eating and shopping.
- We shop with reusable bags. They are sturdy, inexpensive and help reduce the excessive use of plastic and paper bags.
- We grow our own herbs. A small herb garden or separate pots of basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano and other popular varieties is easy to do and doesn’t take up much space. Make sure that the mint doesn’t take over the whole garden, though. It tends to do that.
- As much as possible, we source the produce we buy at the grocery store. Whether a major chain or smaller organic version, I always suggest you read and ask questions to make sure you are getting good quality with a small footprint.
- We have enjoyed buying at the local farmer’s markets as much as possible. Sometime you can find deals, sometimes produce or meat can be a bit more expensive, but at least you know it is locally grown, and the quality is usually very good.
- Cook more. In these busy times, particularly in big cities, it is easy to fall into the pattern of eating out or buying pre-cooked meals. Not only are such meals more expensive, but they generally are less environmentally sound.
– Tom Cohen, Media Relations Director
* * *
My family and I have continued our community supported agriculture (CSA) program into a new fall/winter season that provides us with lots of root vegetables, salad and eggs. We take reusable bags with us for all kids of shopping. We’re also building a worm compost bin to better compost food scraps. I try to purchase more from year-round farmer’s markets and less from larger grocery stores since local sourcing is important to us.
– Steve Goldstein, Senior Editorial Director
* * *
I do a few things to try to lessen my environmental impact through the foods I eat. For one, I try to go to a local farmer’s market every weekend and pick up produce and meat. The veggies usually come from no more than 100 miles away, so not only do I eat fresh produce but I also support the economy of the greater DC area. Additionally, I try to minimize the amount of meat that I eat since the energy inputs for meat are several orders of magnitude larger than vegetables. When I do eat meat, I like to buy the meat that comes from the EcoFriendly Foods. Although it is more expensive than the grocery store meat, it is raised using the highest standards of sustainability. This farm uses the same general practices as Polyface Farms in Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma where the animals live in a type of symbiosis with the land. I also take part in the CSA from spring until fall every year.
– Bynum Hoekstra, Coordinator, Web Services
* * *
One thing I pay attention to is the seafood I eat. The Seafood WATCH guide is my first stop for reliable information about smart seafood choices. When I share this with my friends, they point out there are a lot of choices on the printable card. So I recommend starting simple. I tell them to pick two or three sustainable options, learn them, and only buy or eat those choices. US farmed-raised tilapia and Alaska wild caught salmon are two of my favorites. It’s an interesting challenge: pick your 3 favorites and stick to them for three months. Then evaluate your choices and explore other options on the best choice list.
– Tim Noviello, Senior Communications Coordinator, Global Marine Program
* * *
One of the major things we do is go to the farmer’s market each weekend for our fruits and vegetables. We take a lot of pleasure in talking with the vendors to see where their farm is, and then we try and make our decisions based on where they come from (usually Maryland, Virginia or West Virginia in our case), and what looks the best. I think this part is important – we never feel like we sacrifice taste or quality when we buy “locally.” I also don’t think the prices are too high. We even have a local cheese producer that we go to. Again, prices are reasonable (for good cheese) and we’ve made a nice connection with the individual who sells us our cheese, and who brings us cheese from his place which is less than 2 hours away.
– Jon Philipsborn, Project Coordinator, Climate Change Initiatives Program
* * *
I buy a basket from a CSA. The fruit and veggies are local and I get to discover vegetables I might never have purchased before. I try to cook it all within two days so that wonderful produce does not end up wilting in my refrigerator. I also cook a lot with herbs. Not only are they expensive in stores but also commonly overwrapped in plastic bubble packaging, a lot of waste for a few sprigs of thyme. I've decided to grow my own herbs this year, starting with the easy ones like thyme, rosemary, chives and mint. I have a tiny plot in my yard. But for people who don't have a yard, a few pots will do, on the windowsill or even indoors in the kitchen.
– Christine Potochny, Online Content Director, Conservation Funding
* * *
My wife and I take part in the CSA to get local produce, and we get our dairy from south mountain creamery, an organic dairy farm nearby. When we’re in the mood for fish, we use the wallet guides from Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium. I’ve also gotten very good about asking the waiter or waitress about fish I’m not sure about. And I’ve learned which choices to stay away from: I don’t eat shrimp, I don’t eat swordfish, I don’t eat orange roughy -- in other words, the stocks that are most overfished.
– Bryan Wallace, Science Advisor, Sea Turtle Flagship Program