International Meals on the Road

Last fall we were so excited to score fresh scallops harvested from the seashores of the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  We generally travel on the cheap preparing our own meals, so I was exhilarated when we scored my favorite fish at the local Seafood Market in Ocracoke.  Further up the road we replenished our fresh veggies at The Fresh Market, anticipating a wonderful “local” meal.

As I was cooking, I decided to see exactly where our food came from.  After all, pretty much everything is at arm’s reach in our RV.  Local meal? Not so much. First our salad – cherry tomatoes were from Peru, the romaine lettuce and baby carrots from California, and cauliflower from Canada. Our balsamic salad dressing was from Connecticut and my favorite balsamic glaze was a product of Italy. Fortunately, later in the trip we ran across several Farmers Markets so we then enjoyed local, fresher and tastier salads.

As a side dish we had my favorite – asparagus.  We were in a hurry, it was reasonably priced and not packaged in Styrofoam so I grabbed it and ran.  Turns out it was a “Fairly Traded” product also from Peru. We also snagged a locally baked wild berry pie, which was wonderful!  Although we had already eaten most of the food I brought along, we complimented our meal with nine grain bread from Uprise Bakery from close to home.

Looking closer, for lunch we had wonderful red pepper humus from Asheville, NC, from earlier in our travels, organic blue tortilla chips from Texas, Planter’s Mixed Nuts from Illinois, and Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered espresso beans (our traveling companion) from California.

For breakfast we had Chiquita bananas from Guatamala, along with Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets and Trader Joes Multigrain O’s Cereal from California, covered with yummy honey from Walther’s Farm south of my home town and organic milk from Wisconsin.  To wake us up, we drank Altura Organic Fair Trade Columbian coffee with organic half & half from Oregon.

Although we strive to eat healthy foods, in one day we managed to eat food from six countries – Canada, Columbia, Guatemala, Italy, Peru, and the United States from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin and just a couple local foods from North Carolina.  Now that was a carbon intensive day! I’ve read food typically travels an average of 1500 miles before reaching one’s plate.  Seems mine could have been even further! Seems we need to be more diligent both on and off the road!





The Power of One – Recycler


While it’s easy to feel quite small in this huge world we live in, I try to be mindful, striving to live positively as I interact with people and the Earth.  I realize something as simple as a smile might lift someone’s spirits.  I also take great efforts to live and consume conservatively, as our environment is fragile and our natural resources limited. While it’s always important to Refuse, Reduce and Reuse first, when I look at the numbers I’m astounded by the positive influence of just One Recycler.

When I recycle a single aluminum can, I save enough energy to power a TV for three hours.  The average American has the opportunity to recycle more than 25,000 cans in a lifetime!  It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials and a recycled can typically is back on the grocery shelves within 60 days.

By recycling one plastic bottle, you save enough energy to power a 60-watt bulb for six hours.   And if you recycle one glass jar, you could save enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.  Just one!  It takes 70% less energy to recycle plastic than to produce it from raw materials and 40% less energy for glass.

Now consider paper.  The average American use about 680 pounds of paper per year, over a ton in less than four years.  Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 thirty foot (pulp) trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water.  This represents a 65% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution.

According to 2011 EPA figures, an average American generates 4.7 pounds per person per day and 75% of that is reusable or recyclable.  What a great opportunity to conserve energy, reduce air and water pollution, reduce greenhouse gases, and conserve our natural resources while creating jobs.

Once you start recycling and realize your positive contribution, you will likely teach your children and tell your friends.   From there your positive influence grows exponentially.  Never ever underestimate the Power of One!

(Statistics provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Recycling Coalition.)