Market Research

April 7, 2007 at 11:55 pm 3 comments

Wageningen Market

As you can probably guess from this wannabe clever title, today is market day in Wageningen (Vahhhhheningen, like you are trying to expel some mucus). So, in our soon to be squandered innocence, we headed off, carrying our little tote bags, a couple of plastic bags to reuse and a carton of eggs to refill at the organic dairy stand.

Full of good intentions, we successfully purchased a broccoli,a zucchini and a few mushrooms at the organic produce stand, making use of the totes and one of the plastic bags I brought along. We knew we needed to be extra watchful, as it was only on the previous day that we weren’t quick enough to prevent the organic butcher from handing us our goodies in one of those dreaded plastic bags. We assumed, by the absence of packaging and what they were selling that their stuff was reasonably local. Or at least I like to think so, and postpone my disillusion for some other time…

Unfortunately, however, we are still not at a point where we can afford to refill our stock entirely from the organic stand… So we went on, intending on getting some fruit and what not at a regular stand. It was then that we realized exactly how hopeless our situation is… Inspecting the items on display, I was still hoping to find something that could even remotely qualify as “local”. Bananas (Costa Rica) were obviously not an option, as well as the sugar snaps we were informed came from South Africa. Looking at the bleakness of this picture, it suddenly seemed that Spain was actually not such a bad perspective after all… In the end, we walked away with some spanish oranges, some spanish strawberries on the verge of spoiling and some plums, which seemed pretty good until I found out they were also from South Africa…

So there…. to quote Butters, “Oh Hamburguers!”. We have now, as I see it, 4 possible options. 1) We go bankrupt buying organic 2) We starve going local and avoiding packaging 3) we expand our standard of what’s local to simply “Europe”, so we can allow ourselves to get stuff that is trucked over from Spain and 4) we stop asking where stuff comes from and revert to our previous “ignorance is bliss” situation. None of these sounds especially appealing, but alas, we must feed.

And so it is, that I have reached the conclusion that after we can’t afford the organic stand anymore, we will limit ourselves to our continent and consider that to be as local as it gets…

Even so, I consider this day to be quite positive, considering that I managed to get home without adding more plastic bags to my collection and reuse one egg carton. But still, I did not escape plastic altogether, as the strawberries were packed in a plastic box.

 Photo Courtesy of .:Kemal:. on Flickr

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Entry filed under: consumption, environment, food, local, organic, plastic.

Wasting money Toilet paper issues

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. shower partner  |  April 8, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    ….FYI about that spanish produce. I had a masters course in environmental systems analysis at our beloved Wageningen University and at one point we did a Life Cycle Assessment exercise, where we compared tomatoes from spain with tomatoes from the NL.

    To our surprise, the spanish tomates’ life journey, from a sparkel in the sowing farmers eye to our hungry bellies, in fact had less of an environmental impact than the dutch tomaten.

    This is because the spanish cultivation methods are far less intensive from an input standpoint, while the dutchies grow theirs hydroponically in greenhouses with lots and lots of fertilzers and controlled climates reliant on fossil fuel generated electricity.

    In the end, these added inputs had more of an impact than the additional transport. So…i guess the moral of the story is that simply buying local is not inherently the most environmentally benign practice. Buying organic and local on the other hand…..well we all can dream.

  • 2. Nicole  |  April 10, 2007 at 4:50 am

    I had similar difficulties visiting our local farmer’s market. It is a new one in biking distance from my home and I was very excited. I should have known better, though. There was only ONE vendor selling produce (the rest of the stands were for baked goods it seemed) and that was from a grocery market and the produce was from all over the world!! So, I may end up having to continue to drive long distances to purchase organic and if I want to shop “locally” I can bike to the nearby grocery store and then buy what they have. 😦 It’s a disappointing challenge. I’m always on the lookout for alternatives.

  • 3. gettinggreen  |  April 10, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    I’ve given up on bananas, lemons, limes, plums and berries as part of eating within Canada and the U.S. (which is WAY bigger than Europe so don’t feel bad about restricting yourself to the EU), and so far haven’t lost my sanity. I say just try your best, but if you’re broke one week or you’re time-pressed another, don’t let the guilt get to you. Trying is what’s most important.

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