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An Inventory of our Refrigerators

I recently read an article on World Vision Canada’s website about being a socially conscious grocery shopper. It seems like there’s always another opportunity to be socially conscious, doesn’t it?

I did a presentation a few months ago for World Vision in a grade 10 class at a local high school. In discussing our place as global citizens who are increasingly connected to the rest of the world, one of the activities I did with the class involved having a look at the labels on our clothes, school supplies and shoes to see how much we had depended on products from other parts of the world when we got ready just a few hours before. I’m sure you’re not surprised that we found we were wearing and carrying products manufactured in dozens of countries all around the world. I’d say most of us are not only aware that our choices have an impact, but have also formed our own opinions about how we decide what we should buy. One thing I didn’t talk about with the students that morning was what our breakfast said about how connected we are to the rest of the world. Are we conscious of how an inventory of our refrigerators would reveal our dependence upon internationally grown products?

I took a trip to the kitchen after reading the article because I was curious about how far my food travels before it gets to my table. At any given moment, I might find apples from Ontario, spinach from California, limes from Mexico, bananas from Costa Rica or a pumpkin from the farm an hour west of here….Am I having a more positive impact with the food I purchase locally or globally?

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The article looks at both sides of that question. It suggested that buying locally is beneficial because it can help protect the environment (by reducing the carbon dioxide emissions as food travels to our tables), support local farmers, and safeguard our health (because it’s more difficult to get information about potentially harmful pesticides from international, modern, large-scale farming). Buying globally, on the other hand, can be beneficial because it can help impoverished families (who rely on exports to North America for their profits), protect the environment (because growing vegetables in North America may require heating greenhouses in the winter), and support beneficial international trade.

So what’s the solution? Buy locally? Buy globally? Something in the middle? Something entirely different? There are so many different perspectives and considerations—environment, medical, social and economic, to name a few – that I don’t think there’s an easy answer. But I’m still interested in some of our thoughts..

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