Monday, March 10, 2008

Beth: No Mangoes ‘Til Easter

It’s mango season! Well, I suppose mangoes never actually have a “season” in Seattle, but spring seems to be the time of year when the produce section has a pile of this scrumptious tropical fruit, and for a couple months their beautiful yellow-orange flesh finds its way into salads and smoothies and chutneys in many homes here in the Pacific Northwest.

But this year there will be no mangoes in my kitchen until Easter morning. While the price tag in my local grocery store makes them look fairly affordable, the environmental cost of transporting boxes and pallets full of the fruit all the way from Chile (the origin of the mangoes currently in stock at my local PCC) makes me think twice about purchasing them.

The mangoes arrive by plane, as do most perishable foods from the southern hemisphere, and in an article entitled “Global Warming & Food Choices” in this month’s issue of PCC’s Sound Consumer, the authors report: “Air freight has the highest carbon emissions of any form of transport. It can generate up to 177 times the emissions of shipping [by boat], according to the U.K. Soil Association, which has launched a major campaign against airfreighted food products.”

However, PCC continues to stock non-local, out-of-season produce because customers like me demand it! In response to a customer question about grapes, PCC Produce Merchandiser Joe Hardiman replies: “Many PCC shoppers demand grapes year-round. Non-organic grapes sourced from Chile are, in fact, one of our best-sellers in the winter.”

I know the impact of my food choices, yet it is difficult to exercise restraint when I see fresh, glowing produce on a gray day in February…God, help me to see the real cost to your Earth and to all its inhabitants.

Click here to see the full text of "Global Warming & Food Choices: A Guide to Low-carbon Eating."

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