My kids love bananas. They each get half a banana every morning with their cereal. It is a breakfast fruit staple of sorts.
Now that I am trying to live a more eco-friendly life, I am considering the distance my food has travelled to get to me. All else being equal, I am trying to opt for more local choices. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, this is quite difficult, as we live in the middle of a winter wonderland. What is in season here? I’ll tell you what is in season – nothing. All that you can get locally are those things that can be stored, such as potatoes, turnips, onions, carrots and cabbage.
I have been thinking about the generations before us that lived here – I am talking about the pioneers and farmers that first settled this area about 100 years ago. They must have been very sturdy folk indeed, to withstand the long, cold winters. What did they do for fruit in the winter? Well they probably kept a barrel of apples, cooled off somewhere. They canned peaches and pears and made jam. That was probably it. For vegetables, they probably just kept eating those vegetables that could be stored. There were no tomatoes, no cucumbers, no broccoli, no peas, no lettuce… Many people had probably never even tried melons, oranges, pineapples, mangos and bananas. These foods are grown half way around the world, so access was limited.
Now I go into the grocery store and it is brimming with produce. Most labels tell me where the food is from. Much of it is from all around the world. If I see tomatoes grown in Canada, I know that at this time of year they are grown in heated and lighted greenhouses, not outside. Which tomato has a larger footprint – the local one grown inside, or the one that had to travel 1,000 miles? I honestly do not know. But for now I am choosing the local. What about the strawberries from New Zealand? That is about as far away on the planet as you can get from Canada. Plus I have heard that some of the ships carrying our produce sometimes violate international laws and heavily pollute while in international waters. Is this true? What is the impact?
So I am standing at the grocery store, looking at bananas. My kids love ’em. Plus, they are high in potassium and chock full of other nutrients. They are also really cheap. Should I just get them? If it was only for me, I would probably forgo. But for my kiddies? I look closer at the plastic banana sticker. Ecuador.
This place is 4,200 miles (6,700 kms) away from where I live.
I decide to skip them today, but get them next week. I decide to get them only every 2nd week from now on, until at least spring when there is more local fruit available.
I decide also, to next year try my hand at canning fruit. J