Sustainable eating in Flagstaff
by Christian Booz
What’s for lunch? It is a question that you ask yourself every day. Whether you eat three meals a day or five, food always seems to be on people’s minds. What may not, however, is how much that food actually costs; not just out of pocket money, but environmental costs as well.
Here is an example: you ride your bike to McDonald’s and order yourself a burger. Riding your bike is definitely a great habit to have, because it saves carbon emissions. However, foods such as burgers and fries have plenty of carbon emissions to make up for it.
James Cascio, a writer for OpentheFuture.net, calculated one burger costs roughly six and a half pounds of carbon dioxide. He took this one step further and found in one year the United States’ love for burgers produces the annual carbon output of 7,500 to 15,000 SUVs.
Local restaurants, food providers and brewers are working toward reducing the carbon footprint of their products in order to create a more sustainable food system.
Diablo Burger, located at Heritage Square in downtown Flagstaff, is one of these restaurants.
“All of our burgers are made from 100 percent local, grass-fed, open-range raised beef from the Diablo Trust ranches” says Representative of Diablo Burger Derrick Widmark.
For Diablo Burger, using local food is a way to be sustainable, while bringing the community together and supporting the quality of life for the Flagstaff region.
“For us, it’s about connecting community to the local landscape through food, and supporting local ranchers and farmers who do so much that contributes to the quality of life this region has to offer,” Widmark says.
The emphasis on local food seems to be paying off.
“It’s the best burger and fries I’ve had in Flagstaff by far,” says Chad O’leary, a junior mechanical engineering student.
Sustainable eating practices can also extend to the bars. Motherroad and Lumberyard breweries have both received sustainability awards from Coconino County.
“Drinking locally reduces the carbon footprint because there are less transportation costs associated,” says Micheal Marquess, principle owner of Motherroad Brewery.
Breweries around Flagstaff as well as the country are working towards more sustainable brewing practices. Many give the used hops to local cattle farms for feed, use less and less water per pint and recycle any water they can throughout the brewing process. Drinking locally is drinking sustainably, because it reduces carbon footprint and increases the money going back into local businesses and farms.
“Bike or walk to the bars serving these local beers,” Marquess says. “Lastly, know your limits; don’t waste good beer.”
Northern Arizona University has also shown support for sustainable eating practices. The Green Scene Café, which is located in the Health and Learning Center, shows students the carbon footprint of their foods. The campus also practices composting; and in the Hot Spot the flyers on the tables show NAU is working towards a more sustainable food system.
In Flagstaff, there are plenty of opportunities to eat “green.” The Flagstaff farmer’s market is open every Sunday in the city hall parking lot. All food there is locally grown by people striving to live sustainably.
Jonathan Netzky, owner of the local food based catering service, Local Alternative, suggests that the first step to eating responsibly is being knowledgable about your food.
“Do your research,” Netzky says. ”Find out where your food comes from.”