Our Northern EO, Angie, had the pleasure of engaging with students enrolled in AgriFood at Northumberland Regional High. During their time together, they talked about Food, Energy & Sustainability from production and beyond - looking into energy and water needs for agriculture, expiration dates and packaging considerations. The students were eager to learn how they can add these considerations into the business ideas they have been working on this term.
Through their discussion it was brought forward that it is time to re-educate both growers and consumers on the importance of sustainability.
Each step of the food production chain uses energy and resources. A lot of the food we eat is grown mechanically, either within a greenhouse or by a tractor - both requiring either electricity or diesel. Same with production and processing. And thinking about what other resources we use to grow - water, soil/land - constantly expanding to increase yield to meet demand. It’s not just growing vegetables, the same processes go into other parts of our food guide; meat, dairy, wine and even flowers. Because our food needs to travel, it needs to be kept fresh typically using electricity and packaging which unfortunately puts more plastics and waste in our landfills. It’s almost mind blowing to just look into our fridges and think about the distance some of our food travelled to get to us.
On top of it all, after all of this energy investment and strain on natural resources, we have a lot of food waste. A lot of that waste happens at grocery stores due to expiry dates and “ugly” forms, in restaurants meal sizes are often too large, or in the trucking industry there is spoilage if the trailer isn’t maintained or a box is damaged… this all gets sent to the landfill.
Things we can do as consumers to support sustainability:
- Buy local - not only is it lowering carbon output but you’re keeping money in your community and helping local farmers.
- Buy sustainably grown- buy naturally grown foods when you can - this you will know if you follow the buy local because no doubt you’ll get to know your farmer and what they do to grow your food!
- Eat seasonally - Living in NS, we are fortunate to have some year round growers. If consumers started to rally more towards the buy local movement, students felt we could support more year round growers to help our province self sustain.
~ Angie VanKessel