Honoring Earth Day

This article was originally published in April 2017

In honor of Earth Day this year, Saturday April 22, we asked the founder of the first Earth Day in 1970, Denis Hayes, to share his priorities for agriculture and food in times of climate change. Since 1992, Hayes has served as president of the Bullitt Foundation, dedicated to safeguarding the natural environment in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s what Denis had to share:

“I have many personal priorities for food production unrelated to climate change. These include humane treatment of animals, adequate buffers along streams, protection of pollinators, zero use of antibiotics for growth-enhancing purposes, maintaining corridors for wildlife, programs to show students where their food comes from, etc. I want to eat food raised by farmers who are good stewards.

“In this era of increasingly erratic climate — floods, droughts, extreme winds — my two top priorities for farms are:

  1. Topsoil is a farmer’s most important asset. Don’t employ farming techniques that let it wash or blow away. Don’t lace land with poisons that kill microorganisms. Return nutrients to the soil.
  2. In many areas, climate change will bring much less rain. In the Northwest total precipitation is expected to remain steady, but it will be much more seasonal and snowpack will diminish. Most farmers — at least west of the Cascades — haven’t had to worry about water in the past — it was cheap and abundant. We should prepare for the end of that era. A little bit of technology and a lot of common sense can work miracles. But only if efficiency is a priority.”

“As political actors,” Hayes says, we must elect “leaders who care for the Earth, understand basic science, and have the guts to fight for posterity.”

“And as consumers,” he says, we should “cultivate a sense of sufficiency. Our consumer society has built a culture of conspicuous consumption. I’d love to see us cultivate a culture of conspicuous frugality. The Bullitt Center uses one-third as much energy per square foot as the second-most-efficient building in Seattle, without any loss of comfort or convenience. We’d love to see a similar attitude applied to our homes, cars, clothes and food.”

Also in this issue

Getting flame retardants out of the food supply

Flame retardant chemicals shouldn't be used anywhere near farms. So why are they showing up in butter, lettuce and meat? Is organic food a safer choice?

Tender local, organic asparagus

Few vegetables herald spring better than slender, bright spears of fresh asparagus. And it's tough to find better asparagus than the harvest from these three local farms, longtime PCC partners whose devotion to organics is unparalleled.

Nutritionists' picks

Swing by our produce departments to pick up the best of the spring harvest – local, organic rhubarb, purple sprouting broccoli and asparagus! Also don’t miss healthful, tasty products our nutritionists love – whole turmeric root, fresh beets, watermelon radishes, frozen blueberries, and good-for-your-gut kombucha and a crunchy fermented vegetable mix in bulk.