Carbon-neutral food sheds lead to a cleaner tomorrow
Every day tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by trucks, tractors and refrigeration units. All are used in the delivery of food from around the nation to our local grocery store, and eventually onto our kitchen tables.
On Feb. 24 dozens of people gathered on CU’s campus to listen to ideas on reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The main topic of discussion was carbon-neutral food sheds.
Started at the University of New Mexico’s Sustainability Studies Department, an effort to create carbon-neutral food sheds in New Mexico has led to ideas to start food sheds in Boulder.
A food shed is the idea that a certain region supplies its own food in order to reduce outside sources and carbon dioxide from transportation and storage. This in turn raises the quality of food, causing farmers to concentrate on taste and nutrition, rather than produce durability.
According to Professor Bruce Milne, director of the Sustainability Studies Program at the University of New Mexico, participating carbon-neutral food sheds are just one thing people can do it the battle against the global warming and the greenhouse effects.
Carbon neutral food sheds have two aims, to support local farmers in an attempt to lower travel for produce, and to cut down on pesticides, thus cutting down on the fossil fuels that go into the environment.
“It doesn’t matter if an apple is organic, but if it comes from Chile, you have to take in the consideration of the travel time, which is letting carbon dioxide into our atmosphere,” Milne said. “Consumers have to know not to confuse organic with local.”
In order to keep carbon dioxide levels down, an idea of the carbon-neutral food sheds, farmers use methane gases left from cow manure for energy, rather than leaving it around to release carbon dioxide.
“Instead of using fertilizers, farmers can use manure and use wind towers and solar energy, so the energy can go to distribution and storage instead of tractors to farm the produce,” Milne said.
Professor Joann Silverstein, chairwoman of Civil and Environmental and Architectural Engineering at CU said she has noticed a dramatic change in engineers at CU who have become more conscious of the environment and wish to collaborate with groups like the Boulder Co-op Market or Engineers without Borders.
“A large component of sustainability is education,” Silverstein said. “Students should focus on interactions with systems, not only on the carbon footprint that we leave in the atmosphere, but the water, nitrogen and waste components as well.”
The Boulder Co-operative Market, located at 1904 Pearl St. in Boulder, is a grocery store and caf