Thursday, July 12, 2007

Partial-Impact Me

I am a regular reader of a blog called No Impact Man. It details a year-long experiment being conducted by the author, Colin Beavan, and his family.
For one year, my wife, my 2-year-old daughter, my dog and I, while living in the middle of New York City, are attempting to live without making any net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no carbon emissions, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilets…

What would it be like to try to live a no impact lifestyle? Is it possible? Could it catch on? Is living this way more fun or less fun? More satisfying or less satisfying? Harder or easier? Is it worthwhile or senseless? Are we all doomed or is there hope? These are the questions at the heart of this whole crazy-assed endeavor.
The blog is fascinating and inspiring, and I've learned so much in the few months I've been reading it.

In part because of No Impact Man, and in part because of a nagging feeling I've had for the past few years (leading me to eat "Happy Chickens" where possible and search out kosher butchers because of their clean, humane slaughterhouses), I've decided to go organic.

Initially, the DNB was not on board, and we discussed our conflicting views a few nights ago. He, as many people, believed that organic means only produce grown without harmful pesticides. He was also concerned about the misconception that organic inherently means more healthy or better quality, and felt like organic foods were overpriced for those reasons.

What I've learned, however, is that the USDA National Organic Program defines organic foods as those
produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.
Sustainable agriculture is what I view as one of the most important aspects of organic farming. I'm not trying to avoid cancer through the use of herbal pesticides, but I do believe in stewardship, which is at the core of sustainable agriculture. Saying we're doing this for "the children" is too cliche for my tastes, but I view animals and plants as resources we, as humans, have dominion over. With this power comes a duty to appreciate and take care of the resources we have - not just for future generations but also because it's the right thing to do for the world we've been given.

Organic food often does cost more, but there are logical reasons for the higher pricing. Consider that organic farmers don't receive federal subsidies and that more manpower is required to maintain the rigorous organic standards. Smaller organic farms also don't gain the economic benefits of scale that larger operations have.

I'm also trying to eat more local foods - grown within 250 miles to reduce food miles and support area farmers. The DNB was easily on board with this plan, and has since come around to the organic idea as well. We begin in earnest over the next few days with a trip to our local co-op.

I don't have designs on reducing my net impact to zero, but I'd like to gradually begin to do more of my tree-hugging, organic, locally-produced granola part.


Anonymous said...

Well said. The concept of stewardship has come up in several places lately... consider me on board, too.

Anonymous said...

How far do you reduce your net impact when you use a DivaCup?

S said...

Probably some, but, yuck. Let's just say I don't have need for any of those type of products, earth friendly or not.