October 7, 2010

Stop Conserving So Much. ~ Kori Bubnack

Eco Conscious Biodiversity.

‘Green’ and ‘less’ usually go hand in hand—e.g., less of a carbon footprint, less processed foods and less time in the shower. As Gary Nabhan, ethnobotanist and author of Coming Home to Eat, said in a recent interview, for most environmental issues, “…we tell people to stop something, reduce their impact, reduce their damage.” Indeed, a number of environmental voices have pushed sustainability through conservation. The Earth Day Network has brought conservationists and green enthusiasts together to discuss new ways to help the planet. Also, in the San Francisco Bay area, Doug Band and the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) have begun to develop successful emission reduction projects.

However, for at least one pressing green issue—the loss of crop diversity—the advice is actually to consume more—more local and more diverse.

The need for crop diversity is clear. According to The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, only four species supply half of our plant based calories. And, as agriculturist Marco Contiero reminds us, “biodiversity is an essential characteristic of any sustainable agricultural system, especially in the context of climate change.”

Nabhan claims eating wide-variety of home-grown foods will have one of the greenest impacts on the planet. The theory—known as ‘eat what you conserve’— is that when we eat the fruits and vegetables we want to conserve or save, we promote the granular dissemination of various plant species. Therefore we should tend our own crops and plants and purchase only local farm products at supermarkets and groceries.  This relieves our reliance on exports and imports, thus reducing our carbon footprint.

So both Nabhan and Contiero’s ideas for a more bio-diverse world both call for more—more home growing and more diverse shopping. So remember, as the fall season approaches, be sure to visit your local farmers markets to purchase your fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, as eco-conscious individuals, don’t hesitate to stop the next time you drive by a yard stand with fresh crops. Promoting biodiversity and localized farming is a crucial piece of the conservation puzzle.

Kori Bubnack is a political science graduate student with a passion for environmental issues.

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