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Food: How I cycled 4700 miles eating food from the Earth

Food (2 of 12)
4,700 miles of riding over 104 days eating food from the earth (plus a whole bunch from the dumpster).

The goal: To cross the USA by bicycle while keeping my carbon footprint from food consumption to an extreme minimum.

I did that in two manners. The first was to eat locally produced, organic and unpackaged food. Locally produced meant that it was grown and processed within the state I was in or within 250 miles. Organic meant that it was naturally grown and without added chemicals. I don’t care the slightest bit about certification. I care what the farmer or the grower tells me they did. Unpackaged meant just that, food that was not in packages. I made an exception for jarred items such as honey and jam because I either gave the jar back to them or to someone else to use as the valuable resource that they are. Sometimes I purchased the food and sometimes I found it growing wild in the woods. This meant I couldn’t buy cycling standard staples such as peanut butter or bananas and of course no fitness bars or drinks.

Fruit off the grid

Some fruit fresh for the picking while starting in California

The second manner was to eat food that would have otherwise gone to waste. This came in multiple ways but the primary manner was by taking it right out of grocery store dumpsters. I ate 280 pounds of food that would have ended up in a landfill. That’s close to three pounds per day! Other means of food waste included restaurant and gas station dumpsters, garbage cans on the streets, stuff I found on the side of roads, and residential garbage cans. Occasionally I managed to get the wasted food before it actually ended up in the trash. This included friends that worked at restaurants where the food was going to be thrown away, hosts that were chucking food from their fridge, asking stores if they had anything they were tossing, and grabbing food off of abandoned plates at restaurants.

By eating in this manner it meant substantially reducing my choices and being opportunistic. I called myself an opportunetarian. This also made my day much simpler as I ate what was available to me when it was available to me. However I did have a strict set of rules as to the opportunities that I could actually jump on. Then there was the very tiny bit of food that I ate that did not fit into either of these categories, packaged, not local, conventionally grown food.

Why does it make sense to eat local organic unpackaged food?
Locally grown organic and unpackaged food is good for the environment in many ways.

Local means it does not have to be transported which burns fossil fuels. It also means that my money is going back into the community that I am in and supports the local economy. Sure sometimes it was more expensive but my money was going into hands that I wanted to see it in. Other times it was much less expensive than going to the grocery store to get it. The key to spending less is eating what is available and in season. Tomatoes are less expensive when they are in abundance so that is when it is best to eat them both for your pocket, the farmer, and the environment. I didn’t go to the grocery store saying I wanted corn or apples, or whatever I was in the mood for. I went to the store or farm stand saying I want some good nutritious fruits and veggies and I’ll take whatever is in season and a good price.

Rob Greenfield Eating and Shopping Local

I made sure to shop at small businesses supporting local farmers

Organic means it is safer for you and the environment. It means it wasn’t sprayed with chemicals that can be absorbed into the food and in turn into your body. And if those chemicals aren’t absorbed into the food, which most of it is not, then they end up in the natural environment. The chemicals accumulate in the soil, water, and air. Then we, and all the other creatures that live on this earth, are exposed to them. It’s very obvious that pesticides and herbicides are wreaking havoc on plants and animals all over the world. One of the most ironic things I find is that often these pesticides result in the problem becoming worse rather than better while creating many other negative side affects. Growing organically creates better soil and reduces problems such as topsoil erosion. Organic also means non-GMO. As Patagonia once put it in an Ant-GM