I have been thinking a lot about food waste since we buy our fair share of imported ingredients. Trying to gather more information, I was shocked to learn that food waste outweighs transportation in the ecological problems it causes.
It’s surprising that we could make a bigger difference with thoughtful food choices than by switching to an electric car. It’s not so surprising when you consider how often we eat and also that the electricity to power cars is generated from the burning of dirty ol’ coal. I could go off on many tangents with the mysteries of what are best practices, but today let’s just stick to thoughts on food packaging.
It goes without saying that most folks would rather choose their own little green eggplants than to have them pre-selected and packaged. In the example above we usually don’t have a choice but to buy them this way. Thai eggplant is not easy to find in Calgary so, although torn when we find them packaged like this, we still buy them.
I have to assume that the cost of a foam tray, plastic sticker, ink and time spent putting it all together is less than the cost of the lower quality eggplants going bad before selling. The grocer must be minimizing wasted eggplant by packaging them but the ecological cost is unsettling. If picked through, once all the good eggplants are purchased the less desirable ones would decompose relatively quickly but all the plastics will take a very long time to go away. My understanding is that Polystyrene foam only breaks down under sunlight which it doesn’t get in a landfill. It eventually breaks down into smaller pieces but not completely.
Living in a city which is snowy and frozen for most of the year a lot of our food is imported. It’s complicated to know how to leave the smallest footprint. Would it be better to have a greenhouse which uses electricity for heat and light or better to buy the imported, pre-packaged food from the grocery store? It’s unclear which has the least negative impact.
We get about 2-3 months of warm weather but still, we can grow certain foods in our short summer season. It may have a small impact but every bit makes a difference when we are talking about stuff that never goes away. So, I’m going to start by getting these:
If I have success growing Thai eggplant, at least it will save a few foam trays from entering the landfill. Let’s hope the 2018 Calgary summer is a hot one! Baby steps, folks, it all matters!
In Napaya, where Jack is from, he was able to forage from his family’s land. Various kinds of edibles like lemongrass, pandan, coconut, betel leaves, and kaffir lime leaf are always readily available. I remember regularly having a shared plate of fresh foliage to eat alongside whatever was the meal. You cannot believe the freshness, honestly! It was like the blood was still pumping through their veins as we ate them (sorry vegan friends!).
My point is that if you can grow a little something you like to eat, there are many personal and global benefits. No garbage, fresh flavour/texture and maximum nutritional value make it worthwhile. I love the feeling of accomplishment in nurturing a plant while it continues to feed our family. Will you be growing any food this summer?
Now for Thai Eggplant:
How to choose:
- Thai eggplants are small (+- 4cm in diameter), absorb flavours easily, are pleasingly crunchy and a little seedy. They have a mild flavour.
- The best Thai Eggplants are the ones picked while still young and small. The ones which grow for a long time and become bigger before harvesting are harder, more fibrous and not as tasty
How to use:
- Wash, remove stem and cut them in half or quarters before adding.
- We use them in red and green curry coconut soup.
- They can be eaten raw (in Thailand they’re served with Nam Prik, a spicy paste).
- They can be used in stir fry’s.
- They are not good for freezing.
- low in calories
- high in fiber