Our Food, The Planet, and Trader Joe’s Rainbow Peppercorns

Seedling

I’ve still got an hour left on Earth Day 2013 to give my take. When I first started blogging, the environment was all I wrote about. For several years, I was working for Earth Day festivals and this time of year was always my version of an accountant’s tax season.

I still love this planet and still do much work on the environment. In fact, my focus on food is really a subset of the overall “eco” theme. When I first announced The Road to Real Food project, to help people cut out processed foods, a friend sent me a message emphasizing how eco-friendly cutting out processed foods is.

Product packaging is such a large portion of our individual waste stream. Back in 2006 when I started the greenerMiami.com blog, one of my first projects was “The Week of Trash.” (Unfortunately the photos are lost, but the text is still there!) I literally saved all of my trash for a week and sorted it out. It was almost all packaging. So when you are not eating food that comes in a bag, can, plastic container, or box, you are doing the planet a real favor.

Another major impact your food has on the environment is transportation, aka Food Miles. I first started learning about this way back when Plenty, a book about the 100 Mile Diet came out in 2007. (Incredible, inspiring!) Basically, the fewer miles that food needs to travel to you is better for you and the planet.

Recently I was in a Trader Joe’s, poking my nose around and trying out some new products. I grabbed one of their Rainbow Peppercorn grinders. I think it was $1.99, and it has been a delicious topping to just about anything. A month later, I read the label.

Product of Brazil, India, and Malaysia. Packed in South Africa.

Oh dear. You’d think I’m an astute enough label reader to catch this before buying it. This means that each color of peppercorn in this bottle comes from a different country. Then, they are all shipped to yet another country to get put into this bottle. My adorable, delicious, tiny little peppercorns have done more international traveling than I have.Pepper Grinder

So this year, for Earth Day, I hope that we can all continue to assess our personal choices so that we can leave a smaller footprint year after year. And stay sharp! I’d have never guessed that these little guys were going to trick me like they did.

Photo credit: Flickr, Pink Sherbet Photography

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