Take a pause for the planetary cause this Earth Day

Farmer’s markets and biking to work are two easy Earth Day pledges


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St. Lawrence Market makes for an eco-friendly meal and family fun

Environmentalism isn’t always easy in a big city. The frantic pace at which life is lived in Toronto makes it difficult to consider the extent of our own impacts now as well as in the future. 

I suppose that’s one of the ideas behind Earth Day, a subtle little nudge to take a moment for the planet. 

Way back when, being an eco-minded fella was easier. I had a small apartment. It was simple to ride my bike everywhere and take the time to cook delicious vegetarian meals and things like that. But life gets hectic sometimes, then someone breaks out the chicken wings at the tail end of a party, and the rest is carnivorous history.

Now, with a family and constant shuttling back and forth between work, school, piano lessons and sporting activities, life is a blur. 

So it’s important every once in a while to take a pause for the planetary cause. 

One thing I do as a reminder is ride my bicycle to work with some semblance of regularity, at least as soon as the spring weather hits. Another good one is to hit the farmer’s market.

Going to a farmer’s market, whether it be at St. Lawrence, Brick Works or Dufferin Grove or in Thornhill or north Toronto, is a growing trend, but it’s much more than just a chance to nab some fresh produce from a local farm. 

It allows parents to teach their kids about food and where it comes from (and to remind us parents as well). It also allows us to slow things down. It is shopping as a social experience.

I have always found that choices made over food are the best way to think about the impacts we have on the environment. 

Through food shopping, we explore issues around pesticides and GMOs, factory farming, suburban sprawl and waste. We also think about transportation, by considering how far our food travels on boats and trains and trucks and how much fuel is consumed, not only getting to the market, but also when we make selections from around the world at a grocery store versus what’s in season at a farmer’s market. 

Farmer’s markets could even help families take larger steps, such as buying a share of a local farm through a market basket program or other community-supported agriculture program. 

When I was younger, I was a member of an old-fashioned food co-op where everyone took turns working at the store, stocking shelves or managing the register. It was empowering. It feels good to make good choices and take the time to think about what foods we are buying and why. 

My Earth Day pledge is to do more of that. What’s yours?

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Ron Johnson is the editor of Post City Magazines. Follow him on Twitter @TheRonJohnson.

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