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Who cares about Bangladesh? 1. Consumers and human security in the Global South

The collapse of a poorly-constructed building and the deaths of many garment workers in a textile factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, has many Canadians talking, because some of the clothes sold in Canada, by the Joe Fresh brand, of Loblaws, were made in this factory.

The poor working conditions and wages, along with prior indications of cracks in the building, pointing to its instability, has prompted global and Canadian media to ask the question "will this change how you buy your clothes?" and articles with titles like, "Is your wardrobe killing Bangladeshis, or saving them?".

Garment Factory in Bangladesh

Photograph  by Fahad Faisal, via Wikimedia Commons 

I managed to get onto the CBC Noon radio phone in, last Friday (that's me at 17:40 mins into the podcast, What is the cost of a bargain?), to explain that I try to buy Canadian labels and locally manufactured clothes, that I encourage my kids to understand how much work goes into sewing clothes (please bring back Home Economics to schools!), and to ask questions in those mall chain stores, that in my opinion, are full of cheaply manufactured, but expensive goods, about their corporate social responsibility policies and fair-trade practices....  (seriously, I do..!).

The issues of sustainability - economic, social and environmental - are at the heart of this tragedy. This building collapse and high death toll has brought unwelcome publicity for Loblaws, who is sending senior representatives from its supply chain team to the factory, to Dhaka, in an effort to understand what caused the tragedy.  The renewed conversations and debates about the role of the consumer and corporations in affecting the livelihoods and working conditions of people in the Global South, are, in my opinion, most welcome, not least because this disaster highlights the complexity of this issue and the fact that it is a "wicked problem" with no easy solution. We must remember, for example, that Loblaws, is, in many respects an exemplary company, when it comes to leadership on sustainability issues: its Sustainable Seafood Initiative, and the Oceans for Tomorrow campaign, in partnership with the Marine Stewardship Council and World Wildlife Fund Canada, is a marvellous programme, that has resulted in increased consumption of certified sea food in my home - after many years of trying to NOT eat down the food chain.

Bangladesh, its people, its environment, and sustainability, have been in the minds of us at IRIS and the York University community over the years, as highlighted in many events and activities.

This is the first in a series in which I will be updating and re-posting blogs from the past, highlighting the issues faced by Bangladeshis, and the efforts of colleagues, here and abroad to bring attention to these complex challenges and propose solutions.

Dawn Bazely

DISCLAIMER - in the interests of transparency, I should say that my husband, Dr. Peter Ewins, works for WWF Canada. I, myself, undertook my first fundraising campaign for WWF UK when I was 11 years old! BUT, this doesn't mean that I have given WWF a 100% thumbs-up on all of its policies, programmes and actions over the last 40 years - there is always room for improvement.


Paper (&) Tigers: The Trouble with Barbie’s New Commitment to “Sustainable Sourcing”

What should we make of Mattel's October 5, 2011 announcement of new "sustainable sourcing" principles for its paper toy packaging? The move came after a highly-publicized Greenpeace campaign featuring Ken and Barbie “breakup” videos on the internet and huge banners draped from Mattel's Los Angeles headquarters declaring, “Barbie: It’s Over. I don’t date girls that are into deforestation.”

Greenpeace banner on Mattel HQ, June 2011 (Greenpeace)

The principles commit Mattel to some significant concrete steps.

Under Mattel's new policy, 70% of its paper packaging will be harvested sustainably or recycled by the end of 2011, rising to 85% in 2015, with preference for paper certified under the Forest Stewardship Council program for sustainable forestry certification.  The company has also directed all its suppliers to exit known controversial sources of paper fibre. It has committed to avoid such sources in the future by ensuring that fibre sources are known and traced throughout the supply chain, fibre is harvested in compliance with local laws, and is not harvested from old-growth forests, from forests recently converted to timber plantations, or in ways that violate internationally recognized indigenous rights.

Like most voluntary corporate codes of conduct, the principles are couched in qualifiers like “where possible” and “to the extent feasible”, and do not provide for independent third-party verification. But they are not mere window-dressing. They commit Mattel to some significant concrete steps, including to establish specific goals, report publicly on progress, and adopt procedures to ensure that its procurement practices actually reflect the principles.  They also require Mattel to support “multi-stakeholder” efforts to protect global forest resources and give preference to fibre certified under schemes that “exhibit the highest standards and robust audit processes.”

While the principles do not spell out which programs this language is intended to mean, most people familiar with forestry certification would read it as referring implicitly to the FSC, with its innovative tri-cameral structure (environmental, social and economic chambers, each split further into global North and South sub-chambers), as opposed to its mainly industry-driven counterparts such as the big forestry companies’ favoured American Forest & Paper Association’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the Canadian Standards Association’s Sustainable Forest Management program, and the small woodlot owners’ favoured Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Sumatran tigers (WWF)

Greenpeace claims that the new policy will help the endangered Sumatran tiger by preventing Mattel from sourcing paper from companies like Jakarta-based Asia Pulp and Paper, which Greenpeace alleges is a major contributor to deforestation in the tiger’s rapidly shrinking Indonesian rain forest habitat—and which, incidentally, has been buying up Canadian forest industry operations at a rapid pace.

At one level, this is a victory for environmentally responsible business. Mattel is the largest toy maker in the world, the self-proclaimed “worldwide leader in play.” Its procurement practices have a significant impact on the behaviour of suppliers around the world and send a strong signal to other global toy brands like Disney and Hasbro. If Mattel goes “sustainable,” others will likely follow. Its new procurement practices will make business more difficult for some of its more ecologically destructive suppliers, and reward those that are less destructive. In the long run, if extended throughout the industry, they might help ease the seemingly relentless pressure on tropical rainforests and Sumatran tiger habitat.

Let’s face it: The Sumatran tiger will not be saved by buying Barbies packaged in sustainably harvested paper.

But will Mattel’s new principles reduce the number of Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher Price toys purchased by and for the children of the world? Far from it. You can bet Mattel hopes they have the opposite effect, boosting sales by easing the consciences of consumers who fancy themselves environmentally responsible.

Let’s face it: The Sumatran tiger will not be saved by buying Barbies packaged in sustainably harvested paper. If Mattel and the other big toy brands stop sourcing paper products from tropical rainforests, less scrupulous players—companies not as susceptible to public shaming—will take up the slack. Tropical deforestation, like other ecological crises, will not be reversed unless we confront humanity’s insatiable and constantly growing appetite for material consumption, especially in the already affluent industrialized countries like Canada.

I have two school-age children. After reading the Mattel announcement, I thought I would count the toys in their rooms. I lost track around two hundred. Then I tried to imagine all the old toys we have discarded or given away, a pile that would dwarf those we currently have. A pile made largely of plastics that take millennia to break down in the environment. And how many of these toys do our children play with more than once, twice, a dozen times?

Instead of saying “I want a toy in sustainable packaging,” consider saying “I don’t need another toy just now.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love toys, and they can be crucial for children’s intellectual, emotional and other development. But how many does one child need? I’m not suggesting that all a child needs for a full play life is a stick and a mud puddle, although those ingredients can fill entire childhood afternoons. What I am suggesting is that the next time you think about buying yet another toy, instead of saying “I want a toy in sustainable packaging,” consider saying “I don’t need another toy just now.” If hundreds, then thousands, then millions of people choose not to buy that next toy, encouraging children instead to create and explore interior and exterior worlds of play with their own minds and bodies using the materials around them, not only will we help reduce the pressure on species and ecosystems, we will help raise generations of stewards eager to protect them.

I don’t mean to be unduly harsh on Greenpeace or Mattel. Initiatives like Mattel’s sustainable sourcing policy are victories of a sort. With Greenpeace turning forty this year, it is worth reflecting what kind of victories its often dramatic direct action campaigns achieve. Their greatest significance, as Greenpeace asserts in a fortieth birthday pamphlet that just arrived in the mail, is to create “the possibility of another future” by shining a spotlight on environmentally and socially unsustainable business practices. “Sustainable sourcing” is one small step toward such a future. Buying less, and creating more with our own imaginations and hands, would be a larger and more rewarding one.

The Challenges of Green Marketing in The Age of Persuasion

I am an unabashed Public Radio junkie. All of my Sony Ericsson Walkman phones back to 2006, have not only had integrated flashlights but also functioned as transistor radios, allowing me to be permanently hooked up to CBC Radio 1, or to BBC and NPR Podcasts.

This week's award-winning Age of Persuasion Episode is titled "It's Not Easy Being Green: Green Marketing" and is one of my three essential Podcast episodes of 2011*.

Rachel-Carson-Bridge-in-PittsburghTerry begins with Rachel Carson (that's her bridge in Pittsburgh) and then traces the history of environmentally conscious consumerism, linking it to how marketers and advertisers have shaped their campaigns for sustainable, green goods. In  2007, 300,000 green trademarks were registered with patent offices, which is more than the number of trademarks and patents sought at the height of the boom.

The three main take-home messages are:

1. "Beginning with the publication of Silent Spring in 1962... various environmental crises have provoked behavioural change and new behavioural changes created new demands from the public." Responding to these demands for new products (such as sun protection lotions following the discovery of the ozone hole) has required "very delicate, very careful marketing on behalf of advertisers".

In green marketing, the public wants to know the motives of companies immediately, and green marketing ignites scrutiny.

2. "One of the biggest problems for marketers is that sustainability is a moving target. And there haven't been any universally-accepted baselines or calculators." E.g. "Are paper products green and good or, do they flatten forests? Is glass eco-friendly or, does it take a lot more fuel to transport glass than it does plastic? Is cotton one of the most natural products in the world or, is cotton one of the world's biggest pesticide crops? It's a very complicated issue."

3. The fatal mistake when it comes to green marketing is that "virtue cannot be proclaimed in green marketing". Smart marketers stay humble in their green marketing, so that the customer and press spread the word about green and ethical companies. Accusations of "Greenwashing", the deceptive use of green marketing or PR (Jay Westerveld, 1986), are likely to be targeted at green marketing campaigns with over-the-top claims, and to have major consequences.

The most cited example of Greenwashing is the rebranding of British Petroleum (BP) as Beyond Petroleum. The campaign strategy was to rebrand BP as a progressive energy company, bp. The rebranding implied that wind and solar were being invested in heavily by BP, but the reality was that BP was investing more than ever in oil exploration. (And, was recently rebranded, and not by themselves, but the public, as Biggest Polluter).

This brilliant episode of The Age of Persuasion ended with the correct observation about the contradiction that lies at the heart of green marketing: that being sustainable means consuming less, while marketing is about encouraging people to consume more. Nevertheless, he goes on to conclude, that the main task of green marketing is to normalize those high quality, truly green products, that are sustainable across multiple social and environmental indicators.

And, from Bruce Philp's new book, The Consumer Republic: "Buy the change you wish to see in the world."

Congratulations, Terry!

Dawn Bazely

*My other two top Podcasts for 2011, so far...

July 26th  2011 Interview of David Altman by Jian Ghomeshi on Q, CBC, about the rise of narcissism in North America:

July 2nd  2011 interview of Lori Gottlieb by Jian Ghomeshi on Q, CBC, about how overparenting is creating brittle youth who lack resiliency because their parents have not allowed them to learn how to recover from failure.

The Green Marketing Manifesto by John Grant, was Terry's essential background reading.

Live Green Toronto Festival

With the sun shining and the mercury soaring (30+ degrees), I think we can breathe a collective sigh and say, "summer is here". The July long weekend is the official start of cottage weekends, summer concerts, and events and street festivals in the city. From Pride Week to Taste of the Danforth, the Honda Indy to Caribana, there is no shortage of action this summer.

One of the festivals I am most looking forward to is the Live Green Toronto Festival at Yonge and Dundas Square on July 16. This is Toronto's largest outdoor green festival with hundreds of green products and services, outdoor vendors, and live music throughout the day!

I can't wait to check out the vendors, munch on some local (and wheat free!) food, and take in some great live music. I'll also bring some of my duplicate, or less loved, DVDs for the SWAPZONE. I'm always looking to update my DVD collection at home and at the cottage (I need to at least entertain the possibility that there might be a rainy day) and this swap event is a totally free way to add some new titles to my collection -- plus, unlike other no cost options i.e. holding up your local blockbuster or downloading titles online, it is legal! 

Meaning, after it's all said and done, I'll have some new movies and music, and some extra coin in my wallet for some more tasty treats or perhaps a local microbrew on a patio that evening…

The quest for a sustainable writing tool

Last Friday, I was one of the volunteer parent drivers for an excited group of school children that included my daughter. We went to the opening day of  the "Harry Potter" Exhibition at the Ontario Science Centre. Like all trendy exhibitions, the cost of entry was pretty steep, and naturally, since this is a commercial enterprise which is all about making money, the exit of the exhibition led directly into the gift shop. All kinds of pricey Potter paraphernalia was on sale:  a Wizard Chess set for over $400 and a replica of the marauder's map for $45 (prompting me to keep asking myself, "Do J K Rowling and Warner Bros REALLY need another few million?"). Luckily, my daughter kept her selection on the less expensive side and settled on a $20 Parchment Paper Writing Set. "Heck, I thought" as I handed over the plastic, "I could put the kit together from stuff I have on hand at home, and make a quill from a gull or Canada goose feather..." [photopress:Harry_Potter_1.jpg,full,alignright]

Now, when it comes to consuming sustainably, we all KNOW that we should strive to avoid creating garbage that goes into landfill. The Parchment kit purchase got me brooding about my ongoing irritation at the mountain of used up ballpoint and felt-tip pens that I and all the students that I teach have been creating. I am extremely annoyed at how few pens are  recyclable or biodegradable (there are some that are) and at their limited use for  crafts. I have actually given this very serious thought and I maintain a huge collection of pen lids salvaged from pens that have run out, just in case some artist needs them for an installation project involving making a mosaic or collage out of old pens.

My irritation was recently exacerbated, because I was given a beautiful York University metal, rollerball pen. When it ran out, I tried to buy a refill for it, and found that this needed a "special order" from the bookstore. Only one other person had placed such an order, which led me to wonder what all the other recipients had done with their rather expensive metal pens once they ran out?

This seemingly small question of writing instruments had become, for me, yet another irritating example of our sustained unsustainable practices. And, I thought of a solution: I grew up using a fountain pen, and I would go back to it.  Through most of the 1980s, and early 1990s, I used a SINGLE pen - a Sheaffer, with a 14K gold nib that I simply refilled from a bottle of ink. Unfortunately, I am as hard on fountain pens as I am on everything else. On dusting the pen off, I found out that I had stopped using it  because it was very leaky and the nib was bent out of shape. After watching my forefinger and middle finger turn blue, I remembered...


So, off I went on a rather desultory search for a new fountain pen that  has taken me  6-months, give or take. Staples did not really sell quality everyday-use fountain pens, but rather, caligraphy kits with specialist nibs. I then began a random check of stationery stores but failed to find inexpensive, good quality fountain pens. I did, however, discover that the only fountain pen for sale in the York Bookstore was DISPOSABLE. I did end up buying it, out of sheer fascinated horror at the concept, it and I have used it up - it gave a pretty smooth, if guilt-inducing write.

I was starting to become quite obsessed with the whole issue of  being forced to use single-use pens but did not have the time to do a really thorough investigation. But, today, while hanging around, waiting for my daughter , who was on a birthday celebration scavenger hunt at the Eaton Centre, I went on a hunt of my own. At Birks, and European Jewellers, I found Mont Blanc pens for $500-$1000. Gulp! I would lose it/break it/ drop it. Too expensive for me.

But, luckily, I found a shop called La Swiss, with a very patient young man, named Marc who was having a slow day. I drove him crazy, because here, at last was a shop full of not just Swiss watches but a ton of German, French and US-manufactured fountain pens. I left the store with 4 of them:

1. A Waterman, Charleston, Ebony Black model - nice weight, and heft

2. A Diplomat Excellence B Black Lacquer model - a little heavier and with a fine nib

Since they were both well under my target price point of $200 each, and I was so happy to have found a store with a whole range of fountain pens, I went crazy and bought a couple of inexpensive (around $35 to $60) pens from companies that I had never heard of:

1. An ONLINE Piccolo tri-colour fountain pen with a pink and purple lid. This German company, founded in 1991 by Alexander and Thomas Batsch, manufactures a line of eco-friendly, writing products for kids - and, has one of the most chic retail websites I have ever seen - WAY TO GO!

2. A Monteverde Jewelria resin fountain pen in brown. Monteverde is a US company.


I expect to be just fine with these pens for the rest of my life. Like HP Reverse Polish notation calculators, I expect that most people will be unlikely to pick up a pen and use it if I leave it around. Do consider switching back to a fountain pen, and rejoin the fan club. If you did not grow up using one, give it a whirl with a disposable starter pen - you are sure to love it. Fountain pens write faster and smoother than any other pen that I have ever used, and I write a lot. The only thing to remember is to put the pen in a ziploc bag when you fly - the ink leaks - or, just don't fly.

Dawn R. Bazely

Sustainable Shopping, Feng Shui, Suze Orman and Debt

The personal debt of North Americans - both in Canada and the US is staggering. Oprah's "O" magazine's long-time financial advisor, Suze Orman, has published a great book on Women & Money that tells the reader how to track their personal spending. Apparently many North Americans can't do this. Suze makes the link between the lack of basic awareness of where the money's going and personal debt. The Certified General Accountants of Canada 2009 report, "Where has the money gone: The state of Canadian household debt in a stumbling economy" makes this link eminently clear. At the same time, there are tons of tv shows and books on how to declutter your life. They draw a clear connection between personal stress and the accumulation of stuff - as in buying it from the mall. A search of available book titles with the keyword "Feng Shui" - which, in North America, is basically about getting harmony into your life by throwing out stuff, returned 606 titles.

So, here's the thing - most people actually feel happier and calmer in emptier spaces with less stuff in them. If everyone bought LESS stuff, for many people, there would be LESS debt. These people would then REDUCE their ecological footprint and their resource consumption. They would also INCREASE their personal sustainability index. Such a simple idea, yet seemingly so difficult for most North Americans to accomplish.  Has it become easier during the current recession?  And will the notion of living within one's means and differentiating more between needing and wanting become entrenched before our ice caps melt? I don't know the answer to these questions, but they are certainly something that I think about a lot.

Dawn Bazely


"Every one of us does things in the course of a day that adversely affect the health of the planet. We don't decide to, we just don't give it a thought." It's true, I see people doing it mindlessly every single day. Sometimes even I still do, out of habit or lack of other options. Most people don't notice because there are no immediate noticeable consequences of our actions. Patagonia Inc.'s dedication to awareness has launched an interactive mini-site, called ‘The Footprint Chronicles' which allows you to track the impact of ten specific Patagonia products (yes they're a store too) from design through delivery. They also have a ‘Footprint Library' of PDF files which describe their efforts and policies.

Their mission statement is to "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis." This almost seems like a bit of an understatement when you visit their website and see that the shop is only a very small part of what they do. They are a big organization, and their sole profits do not come from their store alone which is what makes it a good place to shop. They're not JUST in it for the money.

Their ‘What we do' list is quite impressive, and includes an environmental grant program, internships, and creating a national park!

All this is mainly the reason why I decided to post this in Shopping the Talk, because its' an eco-store that leads you to bigger action. It looks like a good site to mine for information, and to shop at. It's a nice alternative to just sitting there and moaning. 🙂

As for the clothes, they're really cute, with more fabric patterns than most other e-shops. The swimwear looks particularly awesome.

Sustainable Shopping: Getting in the Green Loop

On my epic quest for green change, and the search for eco-friendly AND fashion-friendly attire, I stumbled upon (in other words, I used google) the store called the Green Loop. and I was impressed. Unlike a lot of blah eco-stores that only sell t-shirts and plain boring stuff, this store has everything from organic skinny jeans to blazers and even eco-friendly shoes.
And of course guys’ gear too, along with accessories, bags, etc. basically, a massive variety of a lot of typical things you’d see at the mall, except it didn’t take 23849543 trees and 87549999 types of pollutants to make them.

They all seem to be ‘designer’ eco-brands as well, which is definitely reflected in the price. Most of the shoes are in the $200-250 range. Dresses are around 100-150, and tops go from 40-100. High end prices no doubt. But when you think about a lot of the stores in a mall like Yorkdale, they pretty much charge the same price. People are willing to pay those prices there because they believe in the quality of those brands. I don’t actually own anything from the Green Loop but from what I can tell I’m going to say that these are probably better quality than a lot of the stuff I’ve seen in mall stores, even if you only consider the fact that if its eco-friendly, a lot of thought was put into the making (not just the design) of the item.

I was impressed with the variety. If you can afford it, it’s not a bad place to buy some chic ethical clothing and help cause me (and your kids) less asthma attacks!

(one of my favourite dresses from their store)

Online Sustainable Shopping

It's important to know that we DO have eco-friendly shopping options and where we can find them. Sadly, most of them won't be found at the mall. So I did some investigating and checked out some sustainable online shops. Today I'll be looking at 2 stores:

Mountains of the Moon Eco-Fashion, Hemp, Organic Clothing and More

Variety/Availability: 6.5/10
- There are only a few designs in each category (being tops, skirts, etc) except for the tops, which have a somewhat decent selection. They claim you can get them in different fabrics, though I don't see any web options for that. They also have a small line of baby clothes. In terms of selection, it's no Wal-mart, but honestly that's probably a good thing. You can also find their lines at over 100 select retail stores through the U.S., Canada, Japan and the U.K
Cosmetic Appeal: 9/10
- Definitely some of the best-looking eco-clothes out there. Not just your plain boring old hemp t-shirts, the clothes are actually cut to be flattering. They mimic high fashion considerably well. They tend to stay only with solid colours though.
Pricing: 6.5/10
- Not cheap. Not horribly unreasonable either. Keeping in mind that organic materials often cost more to produce, this is because a lot of the work is being done by humans. So in essence, organic pricing actually reflects how much things should cost. Dresses ranges in the $68-78 range, tops from $24-68, bottoms
Eco-friendly: 8/10
- The clothes are made sweatshop-free in the USA. Additionally they are "Co-op America" approved and a member of Hemp Industries Association. Each design is available in a variety of colors and fabrics (all made from sustainable fabrics and colored with low-impact dyes). This seems to be a good effort to me.
Eco Fabrik

Variety/Availability: 6/10
- A very simple selection of basic casual wear. A dress, a skirt, a shawl, yoga pants and some basic tops. I do like that they have options for men though they are limited as well. I will say that in terms of comfortable clothing, they have all that you really need.
- Although they lack in a variety of styles, they do also have hats, towels, and a decent selection of cheap tote/gym bags. They also have more baby clothes than adult options.
- They are also available in Europe
Cosmetic Appeal: 8/10
- The clothes look nice enough. They look like normal clothes, unlike a lot of the hippie-wear boho hemp stuff I've seen in stores downtown. The website looks amazing. The pictures of the clothes they show sadly don't seem to be available for sale, something I found to be disappointing because they look quite majestic. All in all, there's nothing fancy here but what is available is cute enough given that they're comfort clothes.
Pricing: 9/10
- Very affordable with an average price of about $20. The bags go from $8.50 and up. Not bad for organic!
Eco-friendly: 9/10
- The main page boasts 3 organic seals of approval. They use organic cotton, and bamboo and hemp, the last 2 of which are even better sustainable options (see Big Green purse blogs)

Buying Locally Produced Foods

Did You Know?
The majority of the money spent on grocery-store food goes to suppliers, processors, middlemen and marketers. Only 3.5 cents of each dollar actually goes to the farmer. (approximately, I've read other figures but generally it's in this area) If you buy food from a farmers market or farm stand, you can be sure that most, if not all, of your money is going directly to the farmer.

Communities reap more economic benefits from the presence of small farms than they do from large ones. Studies have shown that small farms re-invest more money into local economies by purchasing feed, seed and other materials from local businesses,x whereas large farms often order in bulk from distant companies. Large factory livestock farms also bring down local property values with the intense odors they emit.

Food transported short distances is fresher (and, therefore, safer) than food that travels long distances. Local food has less of an opportunity to wilt and rot whereas large-scale food manufacturers must go to extreme lengths to extend shelf-life since there is such a delay between harvest and consumption. Preservatives are commonly used to keep foods stable longer, and are potentially hazardous to human health. Industrially-produced foods are also difficult to grow without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones, all of which can be damaging to both the environment and human health.

A large amount of fossil fuel is used to transport foods such long distances. Combustion of these fuels releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change, acid rain, smog and air pollution. Even the refrigeration required to keep your fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats from spoiling burns up energy.

A typical carrot has to travel 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table.

In the U.S., a wheat farmer can expect to receive about six cents of each dollar spent on a loaf of bread-approximately the cost of the wrapping.xiii
Farmers markets enable farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.
Cheap energy and agricultural subsidies facilitate a type of agriculture that is destroying and polluting our soils and water, weakening our communities, and concentrating wealth and power into a few hands. It is also threatening the security of our food systems, as demonstrated by the continued e-Coli, GMO-contamination, and other health scares that are often seen nowadays on the news.
If you are concerned about genetically-modified foods, you can select local farms that grow food from heirloom seeds. And you can support organic practices in your region.

Local Food: Where to Find It, How to Buy It
This 30-page booklet was developed by the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture for consumers who are interested in supporting rural communities by buying locally grown food, but don't know how to begin. You can get the full free PDF version here: