Sunday, November 15, 2009

Carbon Footprint

 Yesterday, I went with a group of new club acquaintances to a presentation on food miles. This club I was somehow railroaded into joining is called Bliss and Wisdom International. When I first heard the name, I thought it was a pot smoker's club. Its not, but the name is quite misleading.

This being an intercollegiate presentation, hosted by the UCLA chapter of BWI, our group had to drive from Orange County to the far west side of Los Angeles to UCLA, which took two vehicles an hour and fifteen minutes.

I found the presentation somewhat interesting, if readily obvious to anyone with more than half a brain and 5 minutes of thought. The gist of the presentation was the carbon footprint left by the food we buy in the grocery store, measure in miles.

According to the presentation, our food that we purchase at our local supermarket, travels an average of 1800 miles. Their example was asparagus from Peru. The asparagus was grown in Peru, shipped to a distributor in Florida, then shipped again to the supermarket it was purchased at in California.

Another example was cheese, a processed food, which means there are even more added costs. First, corn must be grown to feed the cows, a process that may or may not destroy a few hundred acres of rain forest in order to create the farmland to plant the crops in. then, the corn must be shipped to the dairy farm and fed to the cows, which are then milked. For 1lb of cheese to be made, 20lbs of milk is used, the water weight being discarded. Making the cheese is actually quite carbon producing process, since fermenting cheese is just a controlled spoilage, and which creates methane gas, a greenhouse gas much worse than carbon dioxide. The cheese then must be shipped to a distribution center, from which it is then shipped out all over the nation/world.

But that's not all. After reaching the supermarket, consumers like us drive to the supermarket and peruse the cheese in its open refrigeration displays, which use lots of power. Also, some idiots drive to the market only to purchase one or two items, not caring that it takes the same amount of gas it takes to buy one item or fifty, since it is, after all, a single trip to the market. Why not just go once every week, instead of driving to the market every time you need a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread?

Additionally, about 25% of the food in the United States ends up being thrown out, either as left overs, expired, or spoiled. The landfills this practice creates also makes methane gas.

The presentation concluded with a trip to the local farmers market, where the products travel far less than the ones at the supermarket, most of them from within a hundred miles or so. I think everyone had a good time, and the hypocrisy of us traveling 55 miles to go to a "local" farmers market was not commented upon, beyond a note(by yours truly) that there was a farmers market not 5 minutes away from our carpool meeting point that morning.

I believe the best part of the day was while we were eating lunch at a local noodle joint Mr. Noodle(the iced barley tea was terrible).

There, I had the pleasure of explaining the term "booty call" to a young(16) girl. The president of the BWI chapter at my school, a shy, sheltered, and easily flustered(my favorite trait) little thing, had her hands full trying to put a block on my graphic explanation, at once busy trying to stop the younger girl from listening to me, and at the same time taking time out to blush at my examples and illustrations, some which featured her(the president) in the starring role.

I met new people, flustered some women, and ate something new. It was a good day.

1 comment:

littletotoro said...

LOL good to know you had a good time x3