Posts tagged ‘EnAct’

How Local is Your Fridge?

“What percentage of the food in your fridge is locally grown?” asked Kay Jensen of JenEhr Family Farm.

The question was a simple one but one that all the attendees at the EnAct CSA event had to think about deeply. I personally had no idea. I liked to think of myself as a local food supporter, but did I really had a handle on exactly how I was supporting them? Numbers between 30 and 50% popped up as answers.

The next questions was “What percentage of locally grown food do you want in your fridge?”

Now that was one to think about.

The benefits of getting involved in CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture are numerous, but above all you are showing support for local farmers. It is a way to reconnect with your food, to interact with those producing it, and to learn about the variety of produce out there that isn’t the usual grocery store line-up.  It is a chance to renew the relationship between farmer and consumer.  One touching story shared last night told about a CSA member’s young son, who states regularly that their CSA farmer “grew this food for him”. The interaction is an excellent way to teach children hands on about food and nutrition. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that many health insurance companies offer rebates for subscribers due to the many health benefits of eating farm fresh vegetables.

Kay Jensen shares a CSA box with attendees

Of course with anything new, becoming a CSA subscriber takes some time and energy to adjust. Eating locally takes extra time and planning ahead, says MACSAC, or Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, volunteer Angie Fuhrken.  When she first signed on, she was a bit nervous after receiving a box full of vegetables she barely recognized. There are of course the usual favorites, but a lot of times the CSA box contains new items. After researching places to get recipes based on ingredient and with the help of MACSAC’s cookbook, she quickly adapted and now has a bigger variety of dishes to share with her family. With a little extra energy, you can adjust and figure out a system that works for you.  She also shares her CSA with a neighbor, helping to reduce waste. One week the box is picked up by her, and the next week, the neighbor.  Both Kay and Angie made other suggestions such as choosing a farm with a convenient pick-up location for you, making a plan ahead of time if you are sharing with someone, and to be patient in the transition period while learning how to use all of your new vegetables.

A typical 'winter' CSA box. The winter spinach has a sugary sweetness to it.

So what percentage  of local food do you want in your fridge? Is it there now? Do you have a plan to get it there? When considering all of your options, make sure to include CSA.

For more information on CSA, visit http://www.macsac.org.

Thank you to all who came out to the event last night and to Kay and Angie for giving us their time.

Angie Fuhrken of MACSAC and Kay Jensen of JenEhr Family Farm

~EnAct Intern Kayla Baake

February 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

What’s Your Green Resolution?

I stopped myself from writing the ubiquitous “Top 10” something list at the end of 2009. But I just can’t restrain myself from thinking about how to make myself greener in 2010.

There are lots of things that I truly love about the “EnAct: Steps to Greener Living” book on which our EnAct program is based. (And I’m not just saying that because I work here!). It’s true that most of the behaviors are kinda at the micro level… set your thermostat back a few degrees further, only run your dishwasher/washing machine when it is full, use non-toxic alternatives to household chemicals. But here’s the cool thing: every single time I open the book, I find something that I didn’t know or that I knew but wasn’t ready to take action on before.

We all know that sustainability would be easier if huge corporations and the government would get more fully behind it. And yes, reducing my carbon footprint and your carbon footprint and even all of Madison’s carbon footprint is still just a drop in the bucket. However, it is also true that if each of us does a little, a lot gets done. More importantly, if each of us does a little at home, it makes us think about doing a little at work. Which might help our employers to think about doing a little. Which might inspire us to talk to our partner organizations about doing a little. Which might inspire us to talk with our legislators about doing a little. Which might inspire a bunch of us to vote or purchase a little bit differently. And that, my friends, really does add up.

So, here’s what I’m going to do.

  • Take the bus to work at least once a week
  • Hang on to my unused prescription and over-the-counter medications until the next medical waste drop off event.
  • Change two foods to more local/seasonal choices. This is a little challenging in Wisconsin in the winter. But I can certainly commit to eating Wisconsin cheese and drinking Wisconsin apple juice, rather than French cheese and Florida orange juice.
  • Add another behavior each month; for February, I’m going to check out the Conserve Energy chapter and see what I can come with.

What about you? What could you do differently this year? Check out the EnAct website or contact us if you need some suggestions.

Have fun. Be green.

Maria

January 6, 2010 at 1:06 pm 1 comment

Environmental Health Report Card gives mixed grades

This university town is probably full of “A” students. But we’ve learned that we still have a ways to go to get a better GPA on our environmental health in Dane County.

Every two years the Madison and Dane County Environmental Health Report Card is issued, telling us where we’ve improved and where we have regressed in terms of our air and water quality, recycling, alternative energy, and vehicle travel.

The bad news first: water quality and water conservation have both declined. That means more phosphorus in our lovely lakes and more beach closures, and lower groundwater levels. FYI: Groundwater provides 70% of Wisconsin residents with water.

The bad news second: And, while there was a small increase in recycled material, there was also an increase in the amount of waste produced and sent to the landfill.

The great news: Don’t despair! There is a LOT we can do to make this better.

The also great news: EnAct offers loads of tips that people can use to reduce their water use and their waste production. Our “EnAct: Steps to Greener Living” book offers chapters on saving water and wasting less that you can download here to take action in your own home. Or start an EnAct team with your neighbors or friends and talk about why this stuff matters right here in our backyard!

Want to do something right now? Here are a few ideas:

Water

  • Only run full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher, and use them in off-peak times (middle of the day or after 7 p.m.)
  • Don’t flush medicines or over-the-counter drugs down your drain OR throw them in your garbage. Check with your doctor’s office or pharmacy about medical waste drop-off days.
  • Try using non-toxic alternatives to household chemical cleaners. Commit to trying one new natural product this month. And a second one next month. And so on…
  • Install a faucet aerator in your kitchen; they cost about $1 and can save 3 gallons of water per day per faucet.
  • Keep your leaves out of the gutters and out of the lakes. Use them as mulch on your flowerbeds.

Waste

  • If you are not curbside recycling everything you can, start now! Here’s a list of what is recyclable in Madison.
  • Remove your name from junkmail lists at DirectMail.com
  • Donate or sell items rather than throwing them away. Try Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Stores, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, or Freecycle.
  • Buy at least one post-consumer recycled-content product that you use on a regular basis, like office paper, or that’s a one-time purchase, like fleece clothing made from recycled soda bottles and other plastics.
  • Buy and manage the food in your house to reduce spoilage and waste and to save money. Try not to buy more food than you are certain you family can eat before it goes bad.
  • Try composting. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.
  • When eating out, bring a reusable container for your leftovers rather. Trust me, no one minds if you do this (even my husband realized it was silly to be embarrassed when I whip my trusty Tupperware out of my purse)!

So we got a few Bs and Cs. That’s okay. We can still make the next report card something we’d be proud to show to our grandchildren.

Be green. Have fun.

Maria

December 1, 2009 at 10:08 am 1 comment

New Blog

EnAct now has a sparkling new blog, hosted by WordPress.com. Now, we’re getting serious!

Greetings, blog readers and EnAct enthusiasts! My name is Isabella Lau, and I began my EnAct internship with the Madison Environmental Group this fall.

Six years ago during a tour of the UW campus, I remember an English advisor telling me that Madison is a highly educated town due to the fact that many people choose to stay after they graduate. I’ve become one of the many in that statistic; Madison has completely captivated me in its community spirit, all four of its beautiful seasons, and of course, its environmental consciousness.

The fact is, Madison is an extremely livable city and I’m happy to have found it. We hope this blog will engage you in thinking and talking about the sustainability issues in our city (and beyond). The new format was chosen for its user-friendliness, its clean design and its ability to post pictures, files and videos.

The best thing is that you can join the conversation! We welcome your comments.

Read away,
Isabella

November 3, 2009 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment


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