By Ashley Mackin
In recognition of national Food Day, on Oct. 24, UC San Diego held a Real Food Expo in the Price Center Ballroom to educate people about sustainable living.
“The sustainable food movement questions where our food comes from and aims to have food from more sustainable sources,” said Food Expo organizer Jessica Baltmanas. Acknowledging that ‘sustainability’ is a broad term, she said, “The way we refer to it at UCSD is ‘real food,’ and real food is defined in four categories: humane, locally sourced, ecologically sound and fair trade.
“It’s a matter of consciousness and people waking up to question what they are putting into their bodies.” She added that people could educate themselves by asking where their food is coming from, doing research on the topic, and supporting organic, local farmers.
Several vendors offered suggestions to attendees about implementing sustainable practices in their daily lives. Kathryn Leonard of Holistic Nourishment suggests eating more whole foods.
“Whole foods are foods that are not processed. Anything that comes in a box or a can, a jar, a package, has generally been processed. Anything you can buy in the produce department — sustainably farmed meat or fish and nuts, seeds — those are whole foods,” she said. She added that produce is generally relatively affordable and the basis for a healthy lifestyle.
Brandon Scott of Cool Cups, a vegan gelatin snack company, said consumers must ask questions about sustainable businesses. “Look them up online or ask people at markets like Trader Joes, Jimbo’s and Whole Foods.”
He also suggested growing small amounts of food at home, a sentiment echoed by several participants.
“We can all do something, whether it’s growing a pot of basil or having a whole garden in your backyard. I think that’s the most powerful way to change the food system, to take it into your own hands,” said Jenny Goff of Seed to City Urban Farm.
When it comes to shopping, sustainability also means buying Fair Trade-certified items. Carolyn Leif of Fair Trade San Diego said to look for the Fair Trade-certified logo on items such as coffee, sugar and chocolate chips, because they are typically grown on small farms.
“Whenever you can shop for a fair trade product, do that because the farmers are going to end up with a sustainable wage for (themselves)” she said. “To me, it’s important when I go shopping that I have a choice in what I buy; does it either exploit poor smaller farmers or help them to be sustainable?”
Rebecca Chin with the sustainability resource center at UCSD said all these habits are possible with the right perspective. “One of key phrases I’ve heard is ‘pay the farmers now or pay the doctors later,’ ” she said. She added that the focus of sustainable living is more long-term.
“It’s not looking at the immediate, but looking more into the future; looking at what’s going to sustain you longer, what’s going to sustain your kids longer, and what’s going to sustain our world longer.”