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Group discusses green eating

Katie Carlisle | Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A discussion of the benefits of local and organic farming and the impact of food choices on the environment titled “Food Justice and Sustainability Discussion” brought together Saint Mary’s faculty, students and local farmers Monday in Spes Unica Hall.

Monica Aguirre, president of Saint Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition (SMEAC), said the group sponsored the talk in order to educate the campus about the ecological impact of dining decisions.

“We’ve been learning a lot about how important our food choices are and how much they affect the environment,” she said. “But we’re learning that we have control over these decisions as well.

Megan Zwart, professor of philosophy, said she committed to veganism after thinking about the ethical consequences of what she ate. She said becoming more conscious of what she ate was the first step toward an organic lifestyle.

“I began to think of eating as a moral issue,” Zwart said. “I don’t want to hurt things, but more than that I need to realize all the ways I’m already hurting things.”

Local farmer Mary Kulwicki said she converted to organic eating after discovering the impact of agriculture on the environment.

“Rachel Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’ had the biggest impact on my decision,” she said. “I read it when farming was just another way man could dominate over nature.”

Kulwicki, who said she has worked hard to diversify her crops and free them of chemicals, said her produce is organically certified. She said it is a challenge to do so, as pesticides often contaminate the water supply.

Aguirre said reducing the personal impact on the environment may seem daunting, but it can be achieved with simple, everyday choices.

“Just visiting the [South Bend] Farmers Market and eating organically and locally — ­it doesn’t take a lot and you can start with small steps,” she said.