When you're zero waste you're forced to buy mostly whole foods. What's the point of packaging foods that are going to rot so quickly? I always thought I ate a good diet; it was mostly organic, fresh and local. As certain cravings have set in, I realize that some of my favourite foods (that come in packaging) are actually quite processed. I love chips and bread but since being deprived of them due to their packaging, I've thought about them a bit more and realized that those items aren't "whole foods" or particularly healthy for me. I've also noticed how my skin and mind are starting to change for the better since I've cut them out of my every day diet. What is 'whole food?'
"Food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances"
When I was living a full-waste life I wouldn't think twice before sneaking a chocolate bar once a week: I now buy cacao nibs in bulk - less processed.
For chips: I've replaced it with popping corn - less processed.
Non dairy milk: I've been making my own cashew milk (cashews, filtered water, a few drops of vanilla extract, blend: drink) - less processed.
Cereal: I've replaced cereal with a variety of seeds and nuts and added fruit for some sweetness and sometimes it adds an extra crunch - not processed at all.
Bread: I've started blending heirloom tomatoes and cucumber, I add a bit of honey and cayenne...throw them in the dehydrator overnight and when they are done they form into these really nice wraps. I stuff these "wraps" with a bunch of fresh vegetables and I've made myself a sandwich - least processed sandwich ever.
The list goes on and on. It really got me thinking about whole foods and living here in Vancouver. I managed to track down a couple people who grow their own food.
We believe that urban living is always tricky when growing your own food, I thought so too, until I met Derek who built his own greenhouse on his apartment roof, right here in downtown Vancouver.
He grows: tomatoes, loads of herbs, squash, beets, radishes, lettuce, banana peppers, avocados, a lemon tree and a pear tree (who would of thought). Plus tons of flowers to attract all the bees.
Most of the materials to build the greenhouse he got for free off Craigslist and the wood he got from a couple friends who were ripping out their decks and needed to discard it. Now this is quite the way to upcycle!
This got me thinking about all the roofs in Vancouver that are vacant and empty...shouldn't it be mandatory to create a green space on a roof if we can? We could create a roof co-op, so people can grow and collect their own food. It would reduce a lot of the waste, such as stickers, twist ties and the carbon footprint it takes to get produce from all over the world to your local grocery store. It would also help us eat seasonally. I might take my hand at building a greenhouse for myself this summer and post my step by step progress.
I got curious about farming on a larger scale and had the opportunity to go to Cherry Lane Farms, a sustainable farm in Richmond. Miles, who runs it, was great; he showed me around the farm, I got to forage food for dinner and he prepared a beautiful meal, including a homemade vegan pesto (I'll have to bug him for the recipe).
I have to say the process of seeing where your food comes from makes eating it all that much more enjoyable. I was able to appreciate the different flavours and I could relate to the food more. Fresh food is the best food. We don't need to wait for our governments to get their act together, we can choose to eat local, organic farmers market food, and that will drive change.
Every time we make the choice to buy something we believe in, we are voting for that product. Choosing to participate in eating local, real, whole-food is exercising your ability to vote for a sustainable future. When we start to understand where our food comes from, we are less likely to take it for granted. Going zero waste is opening up a whole new world for me, the shift in perspective has been eye opening.
This is only the first week! I can't wait to see what the following days bring. Time to go prune my own, zero-waste, herbs...
A greenhouse with different varieties of lettuce that will be sent out to Vancouver restaurants that bring in locally sourced produce. I also got to spend some time with the bees! I dipped my finger in there and tried some of the honey....there's nothing like fresh honey.