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Posts from the ‘Sustainable Food’ Category

We’re Dreaming of a “Green” Christmas

The holiday season can be a time of joy, time spent with friends and family, gift giving, good food, and rewatching our favorite comfort movies.  It’s also a time when thinking about and acting on sustainable alternatives is important! 

Holidays bring about plastic and paper waste, increased travel emissions, food waste, and the never-ending debate over plastic versus real trees. Check out some our tips for navigating this holiday season as sustainably as possible! 

Shop local: 

We’ve talked about the importance of shopping local for our food, but shopping local for gifts is also important! Keeping our shopping to our local, small businesses helps support the local economy. Additionally, shopping locally minimizes carbon emissions because travel is minimized for consumers and purveyors.  Supporting small, local businesses also helps to sustain our town centers and can help reduce sprawl and automobile use

Food waste: 

Food waste is a major issues even outside of the holiday season- about 40% of all food produced in the US never gets eaten.  This amount increases by an additional 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years! Here are a couple of easy ways to minimize your food waste: 

  • Plan a head! Figure out your menu ahead of time and plan for the amount of people who will be attending your event. Try and plan foods that you will enjoy eating as leftovers or can repurpose into other dishes (like turkey soup, curry, or sandwiches!). Consider doing more plant-based options for an increased impact! 
  • Compost! Any of the raw fruit and vegetable scraps created in the cooking of your delicious feast  can go into your compost bin to be turned into compost for you to use during the next planting season! Learn more about composting in SLC here
  • Send people home with leftovers! Tell your guests to bring their own to-go containers to help you eat through any remaining leftovers. 
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A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a difficult holiday for those practicing vegetarianism or veganism- with food being such a focal point and the main dish often being meat based. While there are other ways to contribute towards a sustainable lifestyle, how we eat is a major player in our individual carbon footprints. In Utah, these choices contribute to nearly 25% of our  household carbon footprint. Learn more about Dining with Discretion and the importance of understanding the intricacy of our food systems!

A vegetarian Thanksgiving can be easy, there are vegetarian/vegan roasts you can get at the store, but there’s something about creating a flavorful dish to share with your guests that took preparation and dedication. We wanted to make this holiday a little easier for our vegetarian and vegan friends this year so we made a menu, just for you!

Appetizers:

Stuffed Mushrooms

Kale and White Bean Artichoke Dip*

Candied Spiced Nuts

Pastry Wrapped Cranberry Brie

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Eating Local

by SLCgreen intern Mariah Trujillo

Last week we celebrated Utah Climate Week but did you know it was Eat Local Week too? This is a weeklong event developed by Urban Food Connections of Utah, that challenges participants to eat food grown or raised within a 250-mile radius.  

Eat Local Week is intended to highlight and celebrate regional harvests, local agriculture, and Utah’s agricultural heritage. Supporting strong local food systems is one way to build a more resilient community and it can help reduce emissions. Climate change, rising temperatures, and changing precipitation patterns are rapidly changing our agricultural system.  

On July 17, Salt Lake City reached our all-time city record high temperature of 107owhich was repeated several times throughout this summer and into September! High temperatures during extended growing seasons affect the health and yield of crops that haven’t been adapted to a specific regional climate. Supporting our local farmers and their farms builds and invests in communities and helps them become more resilient to our changing climate. 

What does “local food” mean? 

Local food is grown and produced within a small distance from where the consumer purchases it.  On average, produce in the United States travels 1,500 miles from production point to the consumer’s plate. Local food, on the other hand, usually travels a maximum distance of 100-250 miles. Some common locally produced food items include fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, eggs, dairy products, and honey.  

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Introducing Salt Lake City’s Harrison Community Garden! 

Last month, we celebrated the opening of the Harrison Community Garden with Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Council Member Darin Mano, Wasatch Community Gardens, and the Salt Lake City Public Lands Department. Located along 700 East at Harrison Avenue, just south of Liberty Park, the newest addition to Salt Lake City’s family of community gardens provides plots for as many as 50 gardeners to grow vegetables.  

This is the eighth active garden in Salt Lake City boundaries established under our Green City Growers program, which identifies vacant or under-utilized City property with access to a water line and other conditions that support a successful and sustainable community garden. The City partners with local non-profit Wasatch Community Gardens to manage and run the gardens on Salt Lake City property through this program. 

Every community garden is a labor of love, but the Harrison Garden overcame multiple obstacles to ultimately receive funding from the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to make it a reality. (Pssst… community applications are due Sept. 30, 2022 for the next round of CIP funding). 

Community gardens are more than just for the growers!  

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How to Have a More Sustainable Fourth of July

by SLCgreen intern Mariah Trujillo

The sun is shining and inviting us outside for barbecues, picnics, and other festive get-togethers.  

As the focus of our minds shifts to friends, food, and outdoor recreation, it can be easy to lose sight of sustainability and air quality. In the winter, it’s hard to forget about air quality—it’s right in front of us during inversion episodes.

However, summertime can bring a different kind of air pollution. High temperatures, bright sun, and  some holiday celebrations bring about their own slew of risks to our air quality.

Not to despair! The summer months provide the perfect opportunity to revisit our time-tested sustainable practices and learn about new ones. With that in mind, let’s learn how to celebrate a sustainable and clean Fourth of July! 

We’ll talk about air pollution, fire risk, alternative celebrations, food, and minimizing plastic waste. Read on!

Fireworks and Air Pollution

Fireworks, while a fun celebration, unfortunately, produce pollutants that contribute to poor air quality. This includes: coarse particulates (PM10) and fine particulates (PM2.5).  

The pollution can grow disturbingly high in the 12 hours immediately after Fourth of July and 24th of July celebrations—higher than we would see on all but the worst wintertime inversion days. 

High levels of particulate matter pose health risks to children, older people, and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, we have become increasingly aware of the importance of respiratory and lung health and how vulnerable our health can be. The particulates that fireworks release have impacts on health, including but not limited to: triggering asthma attacks, acute bronchitis flare-ups, increased vulnerability to respiratory illnesses, and even heart attacks and arrhythmias for those with heart disease. 

Fireworks Restrictions 

Of course, fireworks can also pose a wildfire risk during our persistent drought. Salt Lake County is currently categorized as a D3 – Extreme Drought Zone.  For this reason, the Salt Lake City Fire Marshall has banned the use of fireworks in certain areas of the city.  

To stay up to date with the current firework restrictions, check out the Salt Lake City Fire Department webpage containing the most recent regulations and information, including a map of areas of Salt Lake City where firework use is prohibited. Violating a “No Firework Zone” may result in a fine of $1,000 

Laser Light Shows 

Sheesh—with all the impacts of fireworks, you may wonder what else you could do to celebrate the Fourth and 24th in a way that does not create air pollution, risk wildfire, nor pose safety hazards (not to mention the stress that fireworks can cause to some veterans, pets, and young kids) 

Salt Lake City went through the same thought process. 

That’s why this July, Salt Lake City will NOT be hosting the traditional 4th of July and 24th of July fireworks shows at Jordan Park and Liberty Park.

Instead . . .  

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Check out the SLC Sustainability 2021 Year in Review!

Happy New Year!

How is it already mid-January already?! We’ve been busy here the last two weeks on projects for the new year which we’re excited to share with you.

Before that, we’re taking some time to reflect on 2021 and all of the work we accomplished with your support. It’s also an important time to take stock; learn from the experiences we had in 2021; and continue to improve our programs, services, and operations.

Every January, we release a Year in Review with our high-level accomplishments as well as priorities for the year ahead. Below are a few highlights. Make sure to check out the full document for more!

Read the full 2021 Year in Review here.

Saying Goodbye to Team Members and Welcoming New Ones

In 2021, SLCgreen certainly felt the impacts of the “Great Resignation.” We said goodbye to Food & Equity Manager Supreet Gill and welcomed Brian Emerson. In the spring, we parted with the founding director of our Sustainability program, Vicki Bennett, who led our team for 20 years and is also recognized around the country as a leader on these issues.

With Vicki’s retirement, Debbie Lyons stepped up to be Sustainability Director and Sophia Nicholas moved from Communications Manager to the Deputy Director role. We also toasted Shannon Williams, Special Projects Assistant, who moved on to an exciting new role in a new state; while welcoming Bimini Horstmann who hails from Boston (with a stop over at Davidson College) and has a passion for rock climbing and environmental science. And, for the first time, we have a dedicated air quality manager position, filled by Catherine Wyffels who joined our team in the summer. She has brought a wealth of insight and expertise to our department. (See blog).

It didn’t stop there! We gave Gregg Evans, our Financial Manager, to the Public Lands Department (luckily he didn’t go far) but were thrilled to welcome Angie Nielsen to our team in the critical accounting role for our department. Finally, December closed out with Max Barnewitz– the “voice” behind the SLCgreenblog and so many of our outreach functions– moving on to an exciting position with Art Access.

We are proud of how our staff, both seasoned and new, integrated into a cohesive and energetic team tackling a variety of projects this past year.

At the beginning of 2021, the deep connections between equity, resiliency, and climate action were clearer than ever due to 2020’s challenges. It set an important focus for our work last year:

Air Quality, Energy Efficiency, & Electrification

Even with more people than ever working from home in 2021, wildfire and inversion seasons still occur. We developed many new programs and engaged with the public to address these issues from an equitable as well as a scientific lens. Additionally, SLCgreen continued strong efforts to move city departments towards electrification and improve energy efficiency. Some notable achievements in the air quality, energy efficiency, and electrification realms include:

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Going Green for the Holidays!

We can hardly believe it, but the holidays are here! This is a great time of year to support Salt Lake City’s efforts to build a more sustainable and resilient community.

Climate action is on all our minds following COP26, which brought world leaders together to create a pathway towards climate action. While the work internationally must be done, everyone has a part to play and small, locally driven climate action can add up to make change. So as you gear up for the holidays, we have some helpful reminders for ways you can be more sustainable!

A holiday greeting graphic shows the Salt Lake City and county building at center with the words Happy Holidays written over the top. Colorful fall leaves and shapes adorn the sides and the SLCgreen logo is at bottom.
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Salt Lake City Signs the Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, will be held in Glasgow Scotland October 31 to November 12. The international conference aims to evaluate past goals and set new targets to address the climate crisis. The COP26 goals include reducing global emissions by investing in renewable energy and addressing global climate inequities to support communities and natural habitats that are already endangered by climate change.

COP26 engages with climate change on an international scale, looking for ways to solidify and act on goals set at previous conferences. However, local governments including city government also can play an active role in implementing policies and programs to fight climate change and build resilient communities.

As part of our work to #ActOnClimate, Salt Lake City became a signatory to the Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration: “A commitment by subnational governments to tackle the climate emergency through integrated food policies and a call on national governments to act.”

Salt Lake City’s growing food programs, which include the Food Policy Council and the Resident Food Equity Advisors, are already advancing policy to help build a more equitable and accessible food system. The Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration ties in another important aspect of their work– the connection between food systems and climate resilience.

Green infographic describes the relationship between food and climate. The green background has a picture of the planet Earth at center with graphics depicting Environmental Degradation, Socio-Economic Inequalities, Health Inequalities, and the Climate Crisis.
The Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration connects climate action to local food policy.

Food & Climate

While it may seem surprising, food systems are an important part of understanding and addressing climate change. Indeed, plant-based and meat based foods, packaging, transportation, and land use all contribute varying degrees of emissions that contribute to global warming. It has been estimated that food waste alone produces enough green house gases that if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter! In total, Global Food Systems account for 1/3 of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In Utah, only 2% of vegetables and 3% of fruit consumed is in grown in-state. Moreover, in Utah, 25% of our household emissions are caused by our food choices. We can help shrink our individual impact by reducing our meat consumption, avoiding food waste, and eating locally-grown food when possible.  SLCgreen’s Dining with Discretion page outlines many useful resources to help you eat healthy and sustainably!

What is Salt Lake City Doing?

Salt Lake City’s climate action goals and policy includes the local food system alongside other key initiatives to mitigate climate change. The Salt Lake City Food Policy Council is already working to address inequities tied to environmental racism and the food system. This year, the Food Policy Council joined the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Council initiative to create more equitable food policies. In addition to this work, the first cohort of Salt Lake City’s Resident Food Equity Advisors provided a detail report to the City to help set priorities that will guide future decisions related to local food. In an effort to understand our local food system more fully, the Salt Lake City Food Policy Council is also taking steps to update our Community Food Assessment, including climate as an assessment factor.

By signing the Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration, Salt Lake City signals our support for more sustainable food policies that will help drive climate action. Moreover, coupled with the efforts already being made to create a more accessible local food system, Salt Lake City’s participation in the declaration shows our commitment to holistic and community focused strategies to act on climate and better understand our food system.  

Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council is Building a More Equitable & Sustainable Food System

by SLCgreen Outreach Coordinator Stephan Sveshnikov

There are over three hundred food policy councils in the U.S., representing towns, cities, tribes, counties, and entire states. Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council (FPC) is one of three in Utah, with another council in Ogden and one at the state level. Food Policy Councils unite community organizations to help guide policy related to our food systems. They inform local government on everything from food access and urban agriculture to food waste and climate concerns.

Salt Lake City’s Food Policy Council (formerly the Food Policy Task Force) was created in 2009. The group identifies policy and program opportunities and makes recommendation for how to create a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient community food system. Their first project was a sustainable code revision, which made it easier to keep chickens, bees, and grow food in Salt Lake. The FPC has supported the Sustainability Department on a variety of other initiatives over the last decade, including the SLC FruitShare program, the curbside composting program, the Square Kitchen Culinary Incubator, the Local Food Microgrant Fund, and much more. Fourteen members representing various sectors of the food system make up the FPC, from small farmers, to anti-hunger organizations, advocates for immigrant and refugee communities, and representatives of the public health sector.

This year, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future launched an initiative to help food policy councils around the country confront systemic racism and inequities in their local food systems. Fifteen councils from fifteen different states were selected to participate, including the Salt Lake City FPC! The initiative will help Salt Lake City as our FPC takes its next steps to build a more equitable food system.

Food, Equity, and Sustainability

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Urban Farming Highlight: The Village Co-Op

by SLCgreen outreach coordinator Stephan Sveshnikov

One of the many ways SLCgreen furthers our sustainability goals is through supporting our local food system. Salt Lake City is committed to providing and facilitating funding for local food programs to enhance access to fresh, healthy, and sustainable food. In recent years, we’ve worked to relax ordinances to allow for backyard chickens and beekeeping, expanded the number of community gardens in the city, and contracted with Green Urban Lunchbox to run the SLC Fruitshare program.

Have you ever wondered how much food you could grow in your yard if you took the time to garden? We produced a Food Map that helps you find an estimate of your yard’s food production potential and provides resources that will educate and empower you to grow more food.

Many Salt Lake City locals are already growing thriving gardens. We recently sat down with one of Salt Lake’s urban farmers, Darin Mann, to talk about his garden, water reduction efforts, and food justice advocacy.

Growing Community

Darin Mann calls his neighborhood the “Venice of Salt Lake.” The garden of cabbages, kale, tomatoes, and everything in between, known officially as the “Village Co-op,” is nestled between  Fairpark and Rose Park, in one of the most ethnically diverse places in the state of Utah. On the other side of his farm stands a mosque and, next to it, a Buddhist temple. Just down the street is the Virgin of Guadalupe Catholic Church. An oasis of green in a crossroads of cultures.

Darin knows the neighborhood well. His farm isn’t called the Village Co-op for nothing: “Every single day I have at least 30 neighbors coming and talking to me about my garden,” he says. Add to that number the 200 families signed up to receive produce box alerts and upwards of 300 volunteers this season alone, and you start to see the sort of impact a small urban farm can have on the surrounding community.

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