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Support Local Food: Eating In Environmentally Conscious Ways

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apples & pears By andrea castelli Via Flickr

The local food movement gets a lot of lip service, but do we actually support the principles of this movement? Our buying practices tend to indicate otherwise, even though eating in this way could help reduce CO2 emissions from transport while also being better for us. So what’s the problem? Why don’t we live our values?

The answer is complicated, but there are a few barriers in our path when it comes to eating locally, ranging from an increasingly wide radius that’s considered local, insufficient local farms to support farmers’ markets and farm to table restaurants, and financial barriers to shopping locally.

Here’s what we’re up against.

Support And Representation

As we all know, farmers are the backbone of the local food movement, but they aren’t always treated this way. Instead, due to media enthusiasm around the local food movement, too many farmers’ markets and farm to table restaurants opened up without first establishing that there were farmers who could support them.

In many cases, this has led to such markets opening without sufficient produce availability, leaving them to pass off other produce as local. In other cases, health-oriented businesses seek to bolster their status by growing the food they serve on site. This is great but can leave some small farmers without enough paying customers. The regional balance between farms and businesses are rarely what one would desire.

A Matter of Distance

Another question that plagues the local food movement is that of distance – who determines what we mean when we say a product is local? Some simply mean that prepared products from a business are made using a regional recipe while others use the term to mean fresh and not frozen. Still, at the end of the day, most people want the term to refer to distance. Eat Local Eat Natural, a group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan focuses on vendors within 150 miles of their warehouse, but they’re rare in their focus on this practice.

Many farmers’ markets don’t hew closely to distance when it comes to marketing their food as local because it would constrain them in terms of variety. The same goes with farm to table restaurants; they want to serve a wide variety of foods, but that requires working with a number of distributors and often serving things that are out of season. Such restaurants use local in their branding to draw customers in, but they don’t supply what they promise, a process known as food fraud and one that contributes to food-linked pollution.

The Best of the Best

Ultimately, if businesses want to support the local food movement, they need to spend a lot of time and effort building relationships with their suppliers. You can only know if your food is really coming from nearby farms if you visit those farms, if you know the people growing your food. A lot of people don’t want to put in that kind of effort and that’s how gaps emerge in our sought after sustainable practices. Places like the Menomonie Food Co-Op are rare in their commitment to purchasing local products and building relationships with the producers.

If you want to be sure your produce is really local, it’s time to start talking. Talk to the person selling your food at that farm stand – ask them where else they sell, what else the farm produces, and find out if you can visit the farm. Check your food for stickers that indicate it was grown elsewhere than where you’ve been told. Think about what’s in season and whether those tomatoes could really be local right now. Local food may be popular, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find.

 

Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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Environment

Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism

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When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.

After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.

How was it started?

It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.

How to go about it?

So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.

If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.

What can be learned?

Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .

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