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The Carletonian

Can Foodies Love Fritos? Thoughts from a confused environmental-foodie hypocrite

< I consider myself an environmentalist – yes! Do I eat Oreos and fly in airplanes– yes! Am I hypocritical – maybe.

Right now, as I write to you, I am sipping cranberry juice out of one of those little plastic cups, sitting on a plane, travelling from Carleton to New York City. I am “burning CO2”, and supporting a food system I have spent countless hours scheming about destroying. So, pause for a moment, and ask yourself: Is she hypocritical?

Judgments aside, here are some facts that may complicate your answer: This weekend I will participate in the largest environmental march ever. Yes, ever. I will stand with millions of other concerned citizens from 68 countries around the world and demand that the UN take action to combat Climate Change. I will show the governments of the world that I care by being present by foregoing obligations, sacrificing time and energy, and showing-up. I am demanding change.

But at the same time, do I have an obligation to reform my individual actions first? Should I not attend the march in order to save fuel? And did my plane ticket support the purchase of processed products I am flying to march against?

About two hours ago, as I was sitting here listening to the stewardesses give their regular spiel “in the case of an emergency make sure to secure your mask before that of others” I couldn’t help but think of this mundane reminder in terms of the environmental activism and food justice.

I realize that the products that I am consuming on this plane ride are supporting an unsustainable food system. A food system that uses more calories in fossil fuel than it produces in calories of food energy. The pretzels and peanuts my neighbor is snacking on are also preserved using petrochemicals, and the plastic bag they are served in will go directly to a landfill after the flight.

But, should we secure our own “environmental masks,” should we reform the way we travel, eat, study and live before we pressure governments to implement a carbon dioxide tax and support local food movements? Or does the government need to reform its policies first?

While I don’t know which should come first, I recognize that not everyone has an “oxygen mask”, not everyone is as fortunate as I am. Many people live in dubious “food deserts” or next to power plants and they cannot afford to move away or buy meals that will not make them sick. These establishments are here to stay until the government implements harsher environmental regulations, and curb’s Monsanto’s influence in corporate agriculture.

I am a living environmental-foodie hypocrite, but I will work on myself if you will stand with me and demand change.

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