Food - From Our Home to Yours
Happy Earth Week! This year, Shedd’s guests have many opportunities to celebrate our blue planet with us—and if you’re far from Chicago, you can join us, too. In partnership with the Illinois Environmental Council, Shedd produced three videos about how we save energy in our aquarium home, and similar steps that you can take in your home.
If you’ve ever tried to plan a dinner party for people with different tastes, you know how tricky it can be. At Shedd, we have more than 32,500 animals to feed, and many of them have unique nutritional needs and meal preferences. Of course, it also takes energy to feed our animals, from how it’s grown to how it reaches the aquarium. So what does Shedd do to find healthy, high quality meals for animals that are also more sustainable? Check out our first video to learn about how our weedy seadragons and Nickel the green sea turtle have local food in their diets—and how you can eat locally, too.
Once you’ve seen how we make a difference in our home, here are some simple, impactful suggestions for how to make a difference at your table:
• Chemical fertilizers and pesticides, food processing and packaging, and long-distance transportation use lots of fossil fuels. Eating fresh, unprocessed local food can save energy, and it’s fun to explore the vendor stalls at farmers markets. The search tool at Local Harvest can help you find the markets near you.
• One of the reasons that food comes from far away is our hunger to have any fruit or vegetable year-round. Take a fun energy-saving challenge and try to eat seasonally when you can. Epicurious has a seasonal ingredient map. The Natural Resources Defense Council has an Eat Local tool to help you find out what’s in season in your state—and they offer an app for quick suggestions when you’re planning meals.
• When is “local” measured in feet? When the food comes from your own garden. Start small with a few pots of herbs or a vegetable “theme”: this could be the year that you grow all of your own salsa ingredients.
• If you’re excited by local food and want to plant seeds for a neighborhood garden in your community, State Cooperative Extensions can be a great resource to get you started. Visit the national site to find an extension program near you.
• Industrially produced meat and cheese are big energy users: we not only need energy to raise, process and ship the animals, but we also use energy to grow the food that those animals eat. By skipping meat and cheese even once a week, your family can significantly reduce its energy consumption.
The Illinois Environmental Council is a coalition of over sixty organizations focused on environmental protection, including Shedd.Learn more about these organizations and get involved at www.ilenviro.org.
—Posted by Meg Matthews, Conservation