Ah, a picture! This is the button I received for taking the Buy To Vote pledge. In case it's too blurry to read, the inside of the circle reads, "certified, local, sustainable". More on that later.
On my way home on Wednesday evening, I felt excited and inspired - hence my desire to write this post. I had just attended a seminar, as part of a volunteer training session, led by none other than the President and Founder of LFP, Lori Stahlbrand. In 2005, this food superhero came up with the idea of creating a certification system to benefit not only the local farmers who use sustainable methods in growing food but also people like you and me who want to know where our food is coming from and to which extent it is either damaging or preserving the natural environment... and our bodies!
You may be asking yourself, "What makes the existing food system so environmentally unsustainable, anyway?" Lots of things! Traditional farming methods have negative effects on:
- water quality: toxic chemicals from pesticides and fertilizer end up in the groundwater
- soil quality: the land is farmed so intensely that the nutrients are depleted and not replenished (hence the ever-increasing need for fertilizer)
- biodiversity: endless fields growing the same crop and no remaining wild areas result in a loss of habitat for many species
- air quality: I don't even want to hazard a guess at how many greenhouse gas emissions spew out of a truck while it carries strawberries from California to my neighbourhood
- sustainable production systems: reduce/eliminate synthetic pesticides and fertilizers as well as hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs, and conserve soil and water
- labour: provide safe and fair working conditions for employees
- livestock: provide healthy and humane care for the animals being raised on the farm
- biodiversity: protect and enhance wildlife habitat
- energy conservation: reduce on-farm energy consumption and greenhouse gases
Okay, this post is getting long. Still with me? Still remember my button, pictured above? I wear it proudly on my purse to help spread the word about the importance of supporting a sustainable food system. It was given to me when, at the Green Living Show earlier this year, I signed a pledge to "vote with my dollars" and shift $10 of my weekly food expenses to certified local, sustainable food. I'm pretty sure I've done much more than that since joining the Young Urban Farmers CSA (see my previous post about it)! Apparently, if 5,000 of us take the pledge, we can cut enough greenhouse gas emissions to equal taking 500 cars off the road and pump enough new money into our local economy to create 50 new jobs, each year, and that's just in Ontario!
So if you support these values, take the pledge already!
And if you're looking for places to shop and eat local and sustainable food, consult this guide.