Going to Eden for apples and more...

Simple steps you can take to reduce your Local Food Miles at Rustomjee Urbania

Food Miles: This phrase indicates number of miles or kilometres your food has travelled to reach you.  The more the food miles the higher the environmental foot print you leave, as longer movement of your food entails generating more carbon dioxide by vehicles moving the food. While there is enough debate about having to eat locally grown food, less attention has been paid to how long residents travel within their cities to buy their food needs.  Local Food Miles (phrase coined by me) then is distance city dwellers travel within their city on a vehicle to shop for food   We shall explore this in the current issue of Times of Urbania and see how we can minimise our Local Food Miles as residents of Rustomjee Urbania.

Why I don't shop for imported apples: I do so for several reasons including high food miles (imported apples are shipped across continents and have thousands of food miles), concern for Indian apple farmers whom I feel we have to patronise by buying their produce but most importantly due to the tastelessness of most imported apples. Apples shipped long distances are harvested unripe and gassed with ethylene (a ripening agent) in refrigerated shipping containers and 'look' ripe and appealing on super market shelves.  One bite into such 'foreign' apples and one gets to feel the crunch but miss the sweetness. 

Indians by the way generally like their fruits sweet (that is why sour fruits like strawberries and Kiwi and bland fruits like Avocadoes never became popular in the country) and it is a mystery how bland imported apples continue to be sold here.  Nice looking artificially ripened imported apples may look good but are unripe in the real sense as the starch has not fully converted to sugars and in the right proportion to make them taste sweet and crunchy.  Foreign growers exporting apples are more interested in growing apples and earning from such sale to worry about how tasty their apples are when eaten by Indians. I have written on this subject and you can read it here: http://tiny.cc/7tzwdz.

Shopping for apples and more at Eden: Our local supermarket Eden does sell Indian apples grown at J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.  Indian apples are harvested ripe and refrigerated and released for sale through the year.  Also, Indian apple varieties are older ones which were not developed just for being shipped and transported over long distances, like modern varieties.  So we benefit by lack of development of Indian apples we get and being able to taste crunchy and sweet apples tasting how nature intended them to be.  If you've eaten crunchy tart fresh Indian apples you'll never again ask for tasteless imported apples.  Do try

Eden is local chain of super markets at Thane ( I know of two more of their stores in Thane) and though not fancy they are functional.  At their Rustomjee Urbania store they stock and sell a wide variety of goods and though compact, maximise space utilisation and carry thousands of stock keeping units (SKUs as they are called in retailing).  At their fresh produce counter, they do allow you to buy fruits and vegetables without use of plastic bags.  The loose produce is weighed and they stick the bar code with the weight on the fruit or vegetable itself.  They sell a wide range of fruits and vegetables and one can find Nendrapazham bananas of Kerala as well as Tinda of North India. 

Even in other products they do have brands and products not easy to find elsewhee.  They have Sattu powder (to make cooling drink that is also rich in protein) and jaggery powder, a good subsitute for cane sugar. I found them carrying a local Thane brand of risk without preservatives and having Nutmeg instead. Eden accepts food coupons as well as food cards.  They deliver at home and have a number on which one can place oders by WhatsApp.  They do have reasonable prices and in most cases below MRP and their bill indicates the saving one has generated by shopping with them. Eden also has stopped giving out plastic carry bags and sell cloth bags to help shoppers.  Shopping at Eden can reduce your Local Food Miles as you can walk across to their store (and also add your step count for the day) or cycle across.  That is far better than driving down elsehwere in Thane navigating through traffic jams and generating CO2 in the process.

Same goes for fruits and vegetables sold by the store Daily Fresh at Azziano A wing.  They are not air conditioned which means they use less energy.  Also as air conditioning can make vegetables and fruits dry out, their produce remains fresh longer.  They too discourage plastic carry bags for loose produce as well as for the final products purchased. 

In any community it is good to encourage resident businesses.  A shop that is assured of business also returns to the community by better prices and variety.  Why drive down into Thane for daily needs when we can do it within Rustomjee Urbania.  At least for part of not all of our monthly groceries we should patronise our resident retailers.  That can be our contribution to keeping our Local Food Miles low.