Courtesy rebecca blissett
There’s nothing like a worldwide food-safety scare to get us thinking about where our food comes from. Add a generally higher awareness of the environmental cost of long-distance shipping and suddenly we’re all bent on shopping local.
But it’s not just food; we’re starting to question goods from countries that don’t have firm environmental and health-safety standards in manufacturing. Reminding us to keep rethinking are the regular reports of recalls of everything from lines of little-girl metal jewelry containing dangerous amounts of lead to some Thomas the Tank Engine wood toys with high lead levels in the paint.
Ever since my mom and I had to flee a trendy Chinese-furniture store after she was overcome by fumes from the merchandise, I’ve been waiting for some similar recalls on home-decor imports. (Was it the pesticide used to fumigate those ‘antique’ wood armoires? Was there something noxious in the paints and lacquers?)
With little information about the health risks of imported consumables and a lot more information on what long-distance travel does to the ozone layer, many of us are opting to forego big-box-retailer deals and pay a little more for some peace of mind.
When it comes to food, we’re starting to choose to eat what’s grown nearby, which means getting in the habit of eating what’s naturally in season. As much as I love avocados, I could get used to enjoying that rhythm of the seasons that was a part of my grandparents’ lives, when the first dish of fresh berries in June was a big deal, and fresh baby corn was an August thing.
Same goes with flowers. We’re used to seeing a wide array of exotic, out-of-season blooms all year round at the local green-grocer, but they come with an environmental cost from long-distance travel or high-energy greenhouse-growing. By limiting our consumption of flowers — for our homes, or as gifts — to what’s grown nearby and in season, we begin to become aware of the natural seasons: pussywillows in January; plum blossoms in March; lilacs for Mother’s Day; sunflowers in late summer; berry branches and holly in winter. Changing up vases and elements like pebbles or pinecones helps emphasize each season.
Seasonal flowers are not only a more sustainable choice; they serve as an ever-changing focal point that keeps spaces fresh, reflecting the time of year, and don’t suck up storage space.