A lot of people these days are legitimately concerned about the sustainability of products and the extensive processing and distance these same products have to travel to get into their homes. Something that grows in your backyard garden always tastes better than something that grew far away, then had to travel via various means to get into your veggie drawer. Unless of course it's something that just doesn't grow in your climate. If you've ever tried to grow bananas or pineapple in your backyard anywhere north of California you'll know what I'm talking about. Pretty well impossible, and whatever you end up getting in terms of fruit (if you get that far) is most likely inedible. However, when I need a pineapple or a banana, I can get them from the store down the street thanks to someone importing them. For that I am thankful. The variety of foods we have these days, thanks to fast transport such as aircraft, is amazing. Although importing cucumbers from Mexico when the farm down the street sells them seems kind of goofy to me.

I find the same thing rings true with how many ingredients are in what I buy. Somehow the more I understand of what is in it, the better it tastes. The ice cream that has 5 ingredients (all of which I can pronounce) just tastes better than the stuff that has 20, half of which are chemicals that, in my opinion, I don't particularly wish to consume. I suppose the best option would be to have everything made with ingredients that are grown somewhat close to home, rather than having something made with heavily processed ingredients created in large factories overseas. But that is mighty hard to come by unless you commit to making everything completely from scratch with local ingredients. Quite frankly, I don't always have time to do that.

Laundry detergent really isn't that different. What most people don't realise is that even the super eco-friendly detergent made in North America has many ingredients in it, several of which are guaranteed to be produced in large processing plants, most likely overseas. Take this one for example

That's one thing that I really love about soap nuts. One ingredient. Yes, it has to come from India or Nepal, but that's simply because they don't grow in our climate. And there is only one ingredient coming from overseas, not several that then have to be processed further, combined, and packaged in plastic jugs. The environmental impact that is the result of the refining of other natural products, such as coconuts and corn, to get them to the point of being useful as detergent, can't even compete with the one process soap nuts have to go through. Drying. And even that is done by the sun. I don't know about you, but that more than makes up for the fact that they have to come from far away. It's like the raw food diet of the detergent world I suppose. Simple, effective, and better for you and the planet.

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Reader Comments (1)

Buying local is difficult because it seems that everything is produced in a centralized location and then supplied to the rest of the country (or world). And then, marketing schemes have trained us to think that we must have things like bananas, pineapple, etc. They've even made it cheap to get these things. Yes they are healthy and delicious but ... there is cost to the environment and often to the field worker's health. My approach is to find products which are produced as close as possible to my home. Sometimes this means my garden, sometimes it's the farmer down the road and sometimes it's a product from another country. But I also try to evaluate my true "need" for the things which must be imported. For example, there are many fruits grown reasonably close to home. I love bananas but I try to view them as a special treat rather than as a staple because I can get the nutrients in other ways. Buying local helps the local economy (important these days) and helps the planet ... and in many cases, especially with food, the items that I get close to home have a higher nutritional value than the ones flown in because they are picked at their ripest and eaten shortly after being harvested. Buying local is certainly the goal ... but it will take a change in mindset to get there.

Thank you for a thought-provoking article! :-)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSmall Footprints

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