Our Carbon Bite

"Do you want to needlessly burn fossil fuel and increase our carbon footprint?" I asked a friend.

"Sure," she said. "Where are we going?"

Yeah, I laughed, but underneath was a consciousness I didn't have before. And I was able to share it in a way that it didn't have to be swatted away.

For years the guy and I have made note of different things we do that are less than healthy. "Watch out," one of us will say when we stick something in the microwave, "I'm going to change the molecular structure of this." As a result we rarely use the microwave any more.

The other night he brought home a local, industrial raised chicken that was roasted at the corner store and packaged in an inordinate amount of plastic. "I see we're having something close to a chicken marinated in petroleum products this evening."

"Yeah," he replied. "I was so hungry I couldn't help it."

I was hungry too and with some sea salt the chicken tasted damn good. But we choose to have chicken less and less and wax poetically more and more about pastured chickens we've had.

I love reciting the place and the story of the fruits and vegetables from the farmers' markets. I feel good making local and organic choices. That I can put cash in the hands of the actual people that walk the fields. But more importantly I note the ways I'm not green - long hot showers, Starbucks coffee, clothes from China.

Before we stopped going to the grocery store the produce aisle would be a noting and international blessing fest. "This is from our brothers and sisters in Chile," I would say choosing apples for lunch.

"And this is from our cousins in Mexico," the guy would continue, dropping in a bag of limes or jalepenos.

"Blessings on our cousins in Mexico," I would add.

"And Chile," he would finish.

And little by little we've been able to source our food closer to home. Point Reyes, I think now, green fields, red winged blackbirds singing, the smell of dirt. And I thank our neighbors that work the fields and get up early for the markets.

We continue to work to lighten our carbon bite and footprint, but first we've had to wake up to the less than stellar choices we're constantly making. And not make ourselves too wrong in the process.

It's slow going and a lot of laughter helps.


Anonymous said...

It is a gift to read your blog...I love to see the world through your eyes!

Kale for Sale said...

Tamara - I keep having to upgrade to stronger glasses. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It takes a long time, K. You're fortunate to live where you do, with your long seasons. I'd consider it something of an imperative to continue to support the farmers' market folks: it saves your very expensive land from the predation of rapacious builders. But just think, though, how great that really fresh food tastes!

Green Bean said...

What a great approach! I love it because it's not preachy but does remind us. I accidentally did it the other week with my mother. I was visited her and we went to the market. I picked up a tomato in the produce section and involuntarily yelped "from Israel!" My mom was a little defensive saying something like "of course, everything is from somewhere else" or something. I didn't say anything else - she knows where I stand. Still, last week she told me that she pays attention to where her food comes from now. She still consciously makes the choice to buy grapes from Chile and blackberries from Mexico. But at least she's paying attention. I think awareness is a first step.

I'll try your tactic from here on out. :)

Donna said...

What a great post. My favorite vice is to read a good book about saving the planet while snuggling up to our electric heater. The irony gets me every time, but I keep doing it.

Kale for Sale said...

El - Supporting the local farmers is the glass half full of not having my own space to garden. I calculate the cost as 50% for the actual food and 50% for the stewardship of the land. I'm fourth generation to the area and while I've always loved this landscape I've never quite apreciated it to the degree I do now as I've come to depend on it for our food. And this area does give so generously.

green bean - There is a recorded talk on the CEUSA website from June of 2007 that included a local farmer that specifically addressed how he couldn't get the price he needed on the California market because of the cheaper tomatoes from Israel. I'm going to have to listen to it again because it so doesn't make sense but it did for a moment when he talked about. Not that the system makes sense but I understood what was going on.

Donna - The picture of you in the electric blanket with a save the planet paperback is like a cartoon from the New Yorker. Too funny. Mine is to not turn on the heater but then go take a long hot shower because I'm so blasted cold. I've yet to find the balance or a good pair of slippers.