Rob Williamson, Greenhouse Neutral Foundation
Greenhouse emissions, a view from your garden outlines two major reasons for growing your own fruits and vegetables.
Today we feature the most energetic environmentalist I have ever followed. While I advocate growing your own foods, this author and activist takes it much further, helping us to reduce our footprint on the entire planet.
Rob Williamson is the Chair & Founder of the Greenhouse Neutral Foundation. He has long crusaded for the need to change from the present course we are on in the developed and fast developing nations. A respected environmentalist with many national and international awards, he is committed to adding his voice to that for change; to a future safe for all.
He is the author of ZERO Greenhouse Emissions - The Day The Lights Went Out - Our Future World.
Williamson's reasons for going to the local Farmer’s Market rather than the supermarket is solid support for the home gardener.
Excerpt 1 from his book:
The biggest issue here is food miles. Most of the environmental cost of our eating habits for convenience is that our food is shipped from far away. One thing no one talks about in the “buy local” and “in season” is that most of the processed pre-packaged food we buy has been cooked or partly cooked by others (externalized impact again). They estimate due to this, the average home energy consumption for cooking these days is only 5% of the total energy used. But it did contribute to emissions elsewhere, didn’t it?
Although the following study was taken in Australia, it certainly is something that affects Americans. Home-grown fruits and vegetables severely diminish problems associated with food miles:
How about the food transported over thousands of kilometers before it arrives at our local supermarket? A study conducted by researchers of a Melbourne-based CERES Community Environment Park found that food in a typical Australian's shopping basket has traveled a staggering 70,803 kilometers to reach Melbourne—equivalent to almost two trips around the world.
“We generally looked at the most commonly bought brands,” they reported. “And when we looked at the popular brand of Hans sausages we found that a lot of their pork is shipped from Denmark, so on average, the sausages had to come about 25,000 kilometers to Melbourne. The sausages were among four imported items out of twenty-nine covered in the study.
“The imported goods contributed more than two-thirds of the shopping basket's total food miles. Even locally grown produce can cover huge distances. In winter, tomatoes bought in Melbourne come from as far away as Queensland and Western Australia, while in summer they only have a short trip from local growers. Looking at food miles is just one way to measure the sustainability of what we eat, but what we really need are full life-cycle assessments, taking into account other things, like the embodied energy and water involved with producing our food.”
The other concern with food (locally grown, we can generally understand how it was grown and how it was chemically treated) we might even be able to choose organically grown food from farmers markets, whereas who knows where many of the ingredients come from in supermarket supplied produce?
Finally on food – again a ticking time bomb of our own making are the preservatives. Who knows the long term residual and carcinogenic cocktail we are brewing with combining products – chemicals that are safe on their own but when mixed are volatile?
Have we used our alternative wisdom to genetically modify our crops and animals with toxins? Will our chosen course set us up to collide with thousands of other native species with whom we share our planet and on whom we rely in order that we may too survive? Has our disregard for the natural processes of nature set us on a course away, that we now need to find our way back from?”
End of excerpts…
The home gardener is less of a threat to negative environmental impacts. Every tomato, bean and patch of basil we grow, reduces food miles and greenhouse gas emissions from transport. Every piece of fruit we purchase locally does the same thing.