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Think about where your food comes from

The main aim of this article is to recognise where our food is coming from, not to tell you that you must or must not buy something, but just to let you be aware.

Ever been to the grocery store and bought some apples? A pear and banana too? Ever thought that those fresh produce could have more air miles than you do?

Knowing where your food has come from is important for the following reasons: you can decide what apple, for example, to buy based on where the food is from, how it will help the community, but also how it could affect you.

Think about it, if a banana is grown in Indonesia, then is shipped to Bermuda, it would travel over 10,000 miles, if it went via New York. That’s pretty far, considering that you could probably buy some local bananas that were grown maybe ten miles away. Fuel efficiency anybody?

Also, what is used to keep these fruits and vegetables fresh and ready to eat on their global trek? Commonsense tells me that it will take quite a while for them to get to our shelves. So, what is used to keep these fruits fresh? A common way to keep them fresh is by adding preservatives.

A study in India discovered that most fruits and vegetables found in farmers markets had been genetically altered by using the chemical Oxytocin because farmers had used it to increase the longevity of their produce. Dr M P Sharma, of Rockland Hospital, the top private hospital in New Delhi, says: “These chemicals can cause gastric ulcers, liver problems and kidney failure. People must be careful.”

If these chemicals are available to street market sellers in India, what can the big companies, that have sources across the world, use? Also, if these street vendors think that it is necessary to use these chemicals to keep their produce fresh, then what is the mindset of the company that must ship bananas from the other side of the world? What do they think that they must use to keep their produce fresh? Ever forgotten about a loaf of bread or a cucumber in the refrigerator, and then a month later come back and it’s still as fresh as the day you bought it? Preservatives and chemicals are most likely the cause of this.

Even if fruits and veggies are not sprayed with preservatives or injected with chemicals, they must be refrigerated so as to stop them from going bad before they get to you. Huge, industrial sized refrigerators are very effective, but also very bad for the environment because of their power consumption. These refrigerators run continuously for hours, sometimes days to keep the food fresh. Think of the energy that these refrigerators must be using, and how many gallons of fossil fuels must be used to keep it going. Not good for the planet, or your lungs.

Local produce, on the other hand, does not need to be treated with these genetically altering products, or refrigerated for as long, because they are grown close to the store and they don’t need to be stored for a really long time. Even though we cannot produce enough of every fruit, vegetable and meat to support the entire Island all of the time; there still is an opportunity for us to support our local farmers and fishers. So, next time you head to the store, just think about what could have been done to this product, where it has come from, how and if it helps our community and what it might do to your body. Then, try and buy local.

* Megan Sutcliffe is a 13-year-old student in Bermuda who is currently the Junior Management Team member at the Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Task-force. She has been at BEST for just over a year and this is her second newspaper article.

Megan Sutcliffe

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Published April 23, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm)

Think about where your food comes from

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