As an East Coast transplant, I have not always felt as connected to the earth as I do today. There is something very special about living in the Twin Cities, in the Midwest, that seems to connect people to the land. Perhaps it’s the deep rooted “family-farm genes”, or the constant battle with the weather, or maybe living in the middle of the country simply encourages a love for the country. Whatever it is, it’s big, and it’s real.
We are enormously lucky to live in such a thriving metropolian area, while still literally having the earth at our fingertips. After making my way through multiple East Coast cities, I can tell you from experience that the connection to the land in Minnesota is strong. We love the earth here, and it is evident by our progressive bike route systems, our countless preserved lakes and parks, and of course, the 12 metro area natural food cooperatives. When I lived in Philadelphia, I had trouble trying to convince the city to pick up my recyclables; most of the time, even after sorting, they would get picked up by the waste removal company and go straight to the landfill. I forget the statistic now, but I used to be outraged by the small percentage of recycled materials that actually got recycled. The environmentalist inside of me was beside herself. It has been a refreshing change of landscape (literally) in the Midwest, one that I try very hard not to take for granted.
It is truly the land that makes me love the Midwest. Something about the gold in the corn fields, or the shimmer on any given lake at dusk, something about riding my bike through blossoming trees, and the taste of local, fresh fruits; all of that stuff rolled into one place. It is an amazing place to live, and a very hard place not to love.
And so for Minnesota (at least in my small bubble) the idea of “Earth Day” sounds almost trite; we celebrate the land we live on every single day. We recycle and compost, and shop at the co-op to support local and sustainable agriculture. We plant gardens and trees, join CSAs, and use bikes as our primary source of transportation when the weather warms. (We curse the winter, but only because we know how wonderful this place can be when it finally subsides.)
It is clear that the people who live in Minnesota truly love their state, their land, and their earth, and so in thinking about what to write about for Earth Day, I feel like I’m preaching to the choir a little bit – and maybe I am. But we just do so much good here, it is hard not to toot our own horn a little bit.
Last year, at the co-op alone, we recycled 129 tons of food waste into animal feed or compost – that’s the weight of 129 small sedan cars! We increased our carbon footprint from electricity and gas usage by just 15.8%, and that’s after doubling the size of one store with our new West 7th location. We also proudly sourced 45% of our wholesale purchases from local producers or Minnesota owned businesses! And we are just one of many places just like us across the Twin Cities – talk about being passionate about sustainable living!
We love the earth at Mississippi Market Co-op, we don’t need a specific day to feel this way, but we’ll gladly take an excuse to celebrate. Happy Earth Day!