Eating Sustainably

I just learned about the "Sustainable Seafood Benefit Dinner," an upcoming fundraiser in San Francisco to benefit the American Fisheries Society and the Fisheries Conservation Society. At $300 a plate, I'll have to take a pass, but it does raise the question: how should one eat with sustainability in mind? Here is what I've come up with:
  • Eat seasonal, local, organically produced food, as well as foods lower on the food chain. Join the Eat Local Challenge, which begins next month.
  • Eat sustainable seafood. The Monterey Bay Aquarium publishes its Seafood Watch guides, which are available as a PDF download. Keep one in your wallet and tell your friends.
  • Be mindful that eating is not a neutral activity, as Elizabeth Barry writes in the latest issue of "Sustainable Easting."
  • Eat less meat. I'm not a vegetarian, but I should be.

"In Praise of Tap Water"

Somewhere in America, executives for bottled water companies, and their paid spokesmen, are panicking. As well they should be: there is a growing sense in America that bottled water is a sham, with costs to the environment and to the commons.

I've written about this before, but I'm delighted to see that the paper of record has joined the discussion. From The New York Times:
Americans are increasingly thirsty for what is billed as the healthiest, and often most expensive, water on the grocery shelf. But this country has some of the best public water supplies in the world. Instead of consuming four billion gallons of water a year in individual-sized bottles, we need to start thinking about what all those bottles are doing to the planet’s health.

Almost all municipal water in America is so good that nobody needs to import a single bottle from Italy or France or the Fiji Islands. Meanwhile, if you choose to get your recommended eight glasses a day from bottled water, you could spend up to $1,400 annually. The same amount of tap water would cost about 49 cents.

The Earth Policy Institute in Washington has estimated that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles Americans use each year. That could fuel 100,000 cars a year instead. And, only about 23 percent of those bottles are recycled, in part because water bottles are often not included in local redemption plans that accept beer and soda cans.

Tap water may now be the equal of bottled water, but that could change. The more the wealthy opt out of drinking tap water, the less political support there will be for investing in maintaining America’s public water supply. That would be a serious loss. Access to cheap, clean water is basic to the nation’s health.

The real change, though, will come when millions of ordinary consumers realize that they can save money, and save the planet, by turning in their water bottles and turning on the tap.
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