Posts Tagged ‘climate’

Farmers’ Markets Are Back!

It’s that time of year again; farmers’ markets are back!  Lettuces, kale, swiss chard, pea greens, radishes, strawberries – there’s lots of early spring produce, especially with greenhouse grown vegetables.  You can also get locally raised eggs, meat, and poultry, fresh-baked goods, locally produced cheeses, potted plants and herbs, handcrafted soaps and lotions, and artisanal items.  Every week it’s something different.

I’m thrilled that the farmers’ market concept has caught on.  The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. Produce is picked unripe, then gassed to ripen, or processed using preservatives or irradiation, losing important nutritional value.    With farmers’ markets, food is grown locally using organic or sustainable farming practices and picked at peak ripeness.  Fresh and nutritious, there is nothing tastier than a vegetable or fruit straight from the farm.

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

Photo by: Wikipedia

There are many other advantages.  When you shop at a farmers’ market, you are supporting local farmers and the local economy. The farmer sells directly to the customer; middlemen are eliminated and the farmer gets to keep more of his profits.

In this era of prepackaged foods, there is little direct connection to our food.  At a farmers’ market, you meet and get to know the people who grow your food and they get to know the people who eat the food they grow.  Today’s children will grow up understanding that their food doesn’t just come in a plastic bag from a giant supermarket, instead someone actually plants the seeds, cares for the tender plant and then harvests the fruit or vegetable.

photo-2

Mashpee Commons Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ markets bring the community together; they are a place for neighbors and friends to connect.  Participating local musicians, food trucks, art shows, and children’s activities make food shopping a real event.

Local farms help preserve open space, protect the land and promote healthy ecosystems.  With sustainable farming, the soil isn’t contaminated with toxic chemicals, keeping our waterways safe.

I participated in the Mashpee farmers’ market on Cape Cod last weekend answering green living questions.  Shoppers and vendors were happy, enjoying the warm summer day.  Customers chatted with the farmers and admired the fruits of their labor.  One vendor even sings opera! Farmer’s markets provide an old-fashioned respite from our fast-paced, wired lives.

Mashpee Commons Farmer's Market

Mashpee Commons Farmers’ Market

So, take a break and visit the farmers’ market in your town.  You’ll enjoy more than the delicious and nutritious produce grown in your area, you’ll enjoy the whole experience.

If you are in the Mashpee area on Cape Cod, stop by the Farmers’ Market at the Mashpee Commons and say hi.  I’m there most Saturdays – the market runs from 1:30 – 6:00!

Some information compiled from winchesterfarmersmarket.org.

 

Eco-College Choices

My thoughts are with all my East Coast readers as they recover from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. 

As you help your high school child navigate the overwhelming college selection process, you might want to consider commitment to sustainability along with academic excellence, location, affordability, and size. According to the Princeton Review’s latest Hopes and Worries survey, 68% of the sampled 7,445 college-bound students said commitment to sustainability impacts their college choice.

IMG_8292.JPG

LEED-certified Athenaeum – Goucher College  (Photo credit: elemess)

The world is definitely moving that way and colleges are getting on board. In addition to more environmental academic offerings, many schools are incorporating green building and LEED certification in their new buildings, as well as offering organic food choices including organic gardens on campus maintained by students. More schools institute recycling and other programs to lower carbon footprint.  They provide greener transportation, more opportunities for student run sustainability groups and preparation for green jobs.  Colleges and universities are increasingly moving towards greener operations and finance.

The Princeton Review tallied a green rating on 806 colleges based on “1) whether students have a campus quality of life that is both healthy and sustainable; 2) how well a school is preparing students not only for employment in the clean energy economy of the 21st century, but also for citizenship in a world now defined by environmental challenges; and 3) how environmentally responsible a school’s policies are.”  This year’s list of the 21 colleges and universities with the highest rating are:  American University, Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, California State University – Chico, Catawba College, Chatham University, College of the Atlantic, Columbia University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Goucher College, Green Mountain College, Harvard College, Northeastern University, San Francisco State University, University of California – Santa Cruz, University of South Carolina- Columbia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Vanderbilt University, and Warren Wilson University.  I’m thrilled to see that 2 of the 3 schools where my kids went, Goucher College and Vanderbilt University, are listed!

It’s encouraging to not only see change happening, but to see that institutions of higher learning are realizing the necessity of placing emphasis on sustainability as they prepare our next generation of leaders for our rapidly changing world. Of course when it comes right down to it, most kids choose their college based on something totally unexpected, like the fact that Chulula Hot Sauce was on every table in the dining room.  That was the clincher for my son!

Information compiled from Natural Awakenings, September 2012, Cool Schools and Princetonreview.com.