Happy Earth Month

Welcome to April and Happy Earth Month!

According to earth-month.org, this year’s theme is plastic pollution.  It’s a hot topic - concerning our environment, oceans, and food.  Not to mention that much of our plastic waste gets shipped to China to be recycled, except that the country recently stopped accepting it.  Our plastic is piling up and we desperately need a systemic level shift in our consumer-oriented, throwaway culture.  

Where do we start?  We’re obsessed with convenience.  We rely on plastic packaging for much of daily life.  Beyond the personal, we live in a world that’s hooked on plastic.  From start to finish, our entire food system relies on plastic to get food from farm to table.  We’ve got plastics, not great in the first place, degrading to microplastics, which are terrible for aquatic life.  Our own health is at stake.  While alternatives exist, but the barriers to scaling up are significant.  

I’m squarely in the guilty camp.  I try to use glass containers, but I have a drawer full of ziplock bags (word on the street is that these are now recyclable, but the drop off location info hasn’t proved reliable).  I try and bring reusable produce sacks to the store and farmers market, but I find they don’t keep greens fresh in the fridge the way plastic does. I’m inspired by resources like gimmethegoodstuff.org that offer alternatives, but these options only go so far towards affecting real change.  As a consumer in the larger food system, I really can’t avoid plastics. If I’m not using them myself, I’m buying food at the store or in restaurants that has touched plastic wrapping and prep containers along the way.

Which leads me to our upcoming Salon + Supper, where the topic will be, you guessed it, plastic packaging.  We’ll explore how our affinity for convenience affects our food system.  I’m especially excited about our April 10th event because I’m co-hosting with chef and farmer Micah Mowrey and we’re shaking up the format a bit.  Micah and I co-founded The Seattle Digest, an ongoing dialogue centered around the table.  We believe the kitchen and dinner table provide unique opportunities to build community and engage intentional conversation -

We envision conversation rooted in the notion that food and culture are pieces of a larger system, one in which the health of our community is tied to the way we treat our land, ourselves, and each other.  In the same way we are disconnected from an understanding of what we eat being grown in the earth and how we eat influencing our health, we are estranged from each other.  Our project is about designing opportunities to further human relationship through sharing food, that primal, intimate way of connecting that gathers us as family.  

As a prelude to supper, we’ll gather in The Riveter kitchen and use seasonal ingredients from Ecolibrium Farms (where Micah is Director of Culinary Operations) to prepare our meal together.  Don’t worry if you’re not a whiz in the kitchen, we’ve got a task for everyone!  To eliminate as much packaging as possible for this meal, ingredients for appetizers, main course, sides, and dessert will be provided (the meal will be prepared vegan, and gluten, and nut free with side dishes available to give participants the option to add grains, nuts, and dairy as desired).  

Once dinner is ready, we’ll transition to the table to enjoy the tastes of spring.  Throughout the evening, we’ll explore questions like:  What does it really take to get food from producer to consumer?  How does packaging affect the food we eat? Where does the packaging go once it’s tossed aside?

In honor of Earth Month, please take some time to follow links in this post and inform yourself about plastics.  And consider registering for next Tuesday’s Salon + Supper to our community in thinking outside the box and imagining a future where our food is plastic free.


Rebekah Papé is a writer, food and wellness consultant, and The Riveter member.  She teaches breath, meditation, and yoga asana on Fridays at 11:30am and noon at Capitol Hill.


Photocredit:  Image Editor Online