Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and drink: Hot on the hundred trail

Putting your carbon-free money where your mouth is



If you’re feeling cynical about your 100-buck carbon tax rebate, don’t. Hadi Dowlatabadi, professor at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBC and renowned researcher into all kinds of fascinating things futuristic — such as how we humans are going to contend with climate change — isn’t touched by a shred of cynicism over it. And, for what it’s worth, neither am I.

By Mr. Dowlatabadi’s measure a carbon tax rebate like this is a good way of compensating for the new 2.4-cent/litre carbon tax at the gas pump. He thinks it’s the right behaviour-modification tool attached to the right spot — the consumer end of business — and a nice way to jump-start new conversations and new ways of thinking. Like this.

Let’s suppose for a minute that we’re talking about a single person living in a condo at Creekside. The rebate, which should be in your hands or at least your mailbox by now, is a clear hundred bucks you didn’t expect to get. (A family of four, on the other hand is getting $400 — $100 for each man, woman and dependent child, as the premier said.)

So how are you going to spend that sucker to reduce your carbon footprint? The media’s doing a pretty good job of covering the obvious options (buying 100 bucks’ worth of energy-saver bulbs or new weather stripping) and the not so obvious (adding a computerized fuel gauge monitoring device to your car).

The food zone also falls into the latter category, mainly because we all eat, too much, some would say, and usually do it more out of habit than mindfulness. So in the spirit of following in Carole Taylor’s green shoes — from local designer John Fluevog, by the way — here are some low-cal carbon strategies for leaving a better planet for the next seven generations:

1. Go for a 50/50 garden: I say spend 50 bucks on leasing a community garden plot for the year and 50 bucks for plants, seeds and a watering can. Not only will you have lots of salad and stir-fry ingredients all summer long, and into the fall, you’ll also have a lot of fun and get to mingle with some neighbours you might not otherwise meet. For a plot in Pemberton’s community garden, visit Solstice Organics or call them at 604-894-1410. For one at Whistler call Whistler Community Services at 604-932-0113.

2. Go whole hog on organics: Okay, so some people argue that organic food is more expensive than run-of-the-mill, commercially grown food. I say give your head a shake. First of all, North Americans pay less than 10 per cent of their disposable income on food; in Europe, it’s 20+ per cent, and third-world residents pay 50-75 per cent of their disposable income on food. Then what price do you place on millions of tons of pesticides and carbon-based fertilizers dumped into our ecosystems every day so one guy wearing a gas mask can farm 15,000 acres? And what price commercial agribusiness where 4-5 companies control 60-80 per cent of global food supply and everything along the system from production and transportation to warehousing, packaging and marketing?

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