Saturday, April 21, 2007

Penny-Wise Challenge

This year, I've really become interested in local eating and in the 100-mile diet in particular. Most of our food travels 1,500 miles before it reaches our plates. Eating more locally can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transporting that food, it helps support local farmers, and promote seasonal eating.

To get a better idea of whether local eating is more expensive, less expensive, or just about the same (financially, of course) as eating commercially produced food, the Eat Local Challenge is organizing the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge. People participating in this particular challenge will try to stay within budget goals from this Monday, April 23rd through Sunday, April 29th.

Personally, I'll be trying to stay with in the two person, two wage earners budget of $144 a week. If I wasn't living with someone, my goal would be a mere $68 for the week. My definition of local is 100-mile radius of my home. Since salt, coffee, and tea aren't produced locally, I'll make exemptions for those things. Stay tuned to see how it goes!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Green Taxes

Thankfully, I've already filed my 2006 tax return, but I'm even happier to report that I noticed some environmental incentives as I was punching my numbers into TurboTax.

First, there was the energy efficient improvements tax break, then the break for owning a hybrid, alternative energy, or electric vehicle. Even though there aren't that many alternative energy fueling stations yet in the United States (compared to regular gasoline stations), the industry is certainly growing.

Farmers are planting more corn this year than they have since 1944, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As the Board of Trade went wild after the agency published its prospective plantings report last Friday, an article in the Chicago Tribune explained why farmers are crazy for corn:
The move to plant corn is in large part due to a rush to produce corn-based ethanol, which is blended with gasoline. There are now 114 ethanol refineries nationwide and another 80 under construction.
So, even though I don't own a car and couldn't claim that I did on my taxes, alternative fuel cars are on the rise, which could help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels at least a little bit.