Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty – Eat Green, Save Green

October 15th, 2008 5:24 pm by Kelly Garbato

The following is the 2008 Blog Action Day post I wrote for Smite Me! [.net], my non-AR blog. At first, I’d intended to write a post about how to live frugally while also being eco-friendly, but it quickly morphed into a post about veg*n food. Blame it on VeganMoFo!

If I have enough time tonight, I’d also like to blog about the impact of the economic crisis (especially foreclosures) on our animal companions, but that remains to be seen. In the meantime, check out this piece at Invisible Voices, in which Deb links Nestle’s exploitation of women and children to that of animals.

Who says animal liberation isn’t a feminist issue?

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In the wake of the current credit and banking crises, many pundits have been predicting that the presidential candidates will have to curb their proposed spending plans drastically when the winner takes office in January. With home foreclosures skyrocketing, pumping money towards renewable energy may seem like a luxury. Yet, an investment in these technologies could create jobs and set us on the path to energy independence. Though the initial investment might be high, the cost of feeding our oil addiction may prove much higher.

Aside from voting and petitioning our state and federal representatives, there’s little we can do as individuals to impact federal spending on eco-friendly options. However, on a micro level, we have a chance to save both money and the earth through the many little (and the few big) choices we make on a daily basis. Just as with the federal government’s expenditures, being “green” may cost a little more up front, but could save us money in the long run.

In a recent piece at Grist, Miles Grant observes notes an obvious parallel between tips to help you save money – and tips to help you save the environment:

Who are you to deny me my two-car garage filled with junk, an elegant dining room I’ll never use, and massive heating/cooling bills?

That’s the basic response from critics when greens question McMansions in particular and our consumer culture in general. I mean, isn’t newer, bigger, better the American way? Didn’t President Bush urge us to go shopping more?

But one financial advisor says trying to look rich by buying so much stuff is keeping some Americans from being rich. And while he never once mentions the environment, his prescriptions for building your savings have a lot in common with tips for cutting your environmental impact.

Being green and being frugal aren’t mutually exclusive, you see. Oftentimes, the two go hand in hand.

This year’s Blog Action theme is poverty; because I’m all about intersecting oppressions (such as classism, environmental destruction and the role of the megatheocorporatocracy in each), I thought I might offer some food-related tips for positively impacting your cash flow and your ecological imprint. Since we’re in the midst of the Vegan Month of Foods – for which I’ve been baking, cooking, drying and otherwise experimenting like mad – I’d like to focus on food, specifically, how one can eat green to save green.

Grow your own food…

Growing your own fruits and veggies is a fun way to save some money. As I wrote in my first VeganMoFo post, there’s nothing more satisfying than cultivating the earth, planting little seedlings and watching them grow, coveting that first grape tomato until it’s red and ripe, and then savoring the food you’ve nurtured all on your own. Whether you live on a lush 20 acres or in a small, third-story apartment, you can grow something, even if it’s just a small patch of herbs on the windowsill. Though it’s impossible for most of us to be entirely self-sufficient and off-the-grid in these modern times, growing your own food can help cut down those food bills – particularly if fruits and veggies comprise the bulk of your diet.

To get started, check out the gardening section at about.com. The “Small Space & Urban Gardens” and “Container Gardening” are of specific interest to those with small or indoor garden spaces.

…and preserve it for the coming winter!

If you have a garden of any size, you probably find yourself with more food than you can possibly eat in one season. If this is the case, look into methods of preserving your food. Canning, dehydrating, drying, freezing, vacuum sealing – all are viable options with varying start-up costs and skill levels. Use the internets to find more information.

If you enjoy toiling away in the kitchen – but don’t have a spot to grow veggies – team up with a friend or family member to split the work and responsibilities. Recruit a fellow frugal enviro with a yard to grow the produce, and pledge to preserve the bounty when it starts to overfloweth. Or volunteer to do the gardening if your BFF will can all the goodies. Share the start-up costs, workload and food. Strength in numbers, am I right?

Go Veg!

Even apart from animal welfare concerns, our insatiable desire for meat has grave environmental concerns: according to the U.N., factory farmed animals are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases; ranching is the major driving force behind global deforestation; feedlot pollution washes into water, killing coral reefs and creating dead zones; and, overall, meat and dairy production are an inefficient use of food and water, such that “the 4.8 pounds of grain fed to cattle to produce one pound of beef” and “it takes a staggering 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.”

Meat and dairy are also bad, bad, bad for our health; E Magazine notes, “There is some evidence to suggest that the human digestive system was not designed for meat consumption and processing (see sidebar), which could help explain why there is such high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, and colon and other cancers. Add to this the plethora of drugs and antibiotics applied as a salve to unnatural factory farming conditions and growing occurrences of meat-based diseases like E. coli and Salmonella, and there’s a compelling health-based case for vegetarianism.” And don’t forget the bird flu!

If you’re thinking about going veg*n (i.e., vegetarian or vegan) – or even if you’re just looking to reduce your meat consumption – there are a plethora of resources online. Google “go veg” – or hop on over to easyVegan.info (my AR blog) and have a look at the blogroll.

My dad, who’s been a vegetarian for 40+ years and used to do his shopping in a small co-op located in the basement of a Unitarian church, will tell you that there’s never been a better time to go veg than now. Even the Cheesecake Factory has vegan options!

Buy in Bulk

Join a CSA and/or join a wholesale store such as Sam’s Club (they have Boca Burgers!) or Costco. If you can’t use or store such large portions, pair up with a friend or family member, and divvy up your purchases.

On the enviro side, bulk purchases usually reduce the amount of packaging you consume.

Buy Generic

Generic and name-brand food is usually similar enough that you won’t notice a difference. When in doubt, buy one of each and sample them side-by-side; who knows, you may even like the no-name option better!

BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag

Invest in a few high-quality canvas tote bags. Keep them in your car (if you own one; that’s another green quandary altogether!), and use them every time you shop.

Some stores will give you a small refund if you return and reuse their grocery bags; other businesses, such as Whole Foods, will give you a discount if you bring your own bag, no matter what type it is.

Americans plow through plastic bags to the tune of 100+ million per year. The lucky few (2%) will be recycled, but even these use up precious petroleum and natural gas and are sometimes decorated with lead, a toxin. Most end up in landfills, or become ocean litter, sapping life from the creatures which reside there. Reusable cloth bags can help to break this pattern of pollution.

As an added benefit, if you’re forced to budget precious sack space while shopping, you just might find that you stop making unplanned impulse purchases that you don’t really need.

Got any food-related tips for saving money/saving the planet? Leave ’em in the comments!

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5 Responses to “Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty – Eat Green, Save Green”

  1. Ellen|CheapCooking.com Says:

    Nice post. I love deciding what to have for dinner by wandering in my garden and seeing what’s ripe.

  2. dosomegreen Says:

    Hi! We have a web-site and blog that support the ideas on your blog. We believe that eating organic, local and/or vegetarian/vegan can definitely help the poverty. For other ideas on being green, and for your comments/input on environmentalism, visit our blog/web-site.

  3. Alex Says:

    Great post, Thank you for sharing, I myself wrote about it here: http://www.guruofsales.com/general/427/fight-poverty-its-blog-action-day-today and got a huge respond from readers and other bloggers. Would you please honor us and share your thoughts by leaving a comment on our post? I am trying to come up with something new tomorrow and I will include and encourage readers to visit your blog back so we can all unite to fight poverty.

  4. Ottawa Gardener Says:

    Great post with lots of useful suggestions. I am thinking about going vegan especially since we are thinking into trading our large urban plot for something on the fringes and trying to be even more self sustaining. It’s amazing how much of our produce we can eek out of what once was the suburban lawn! Thanks.

  5. cheritycall Says:

    Hello, Give something for help the hungry people from Africa or India,
    I added this blog about that subject:
    in http://tinyurl.com/65dptv

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