One of the advantages of living on Cape Cod is that we can very clearly see the source of our food supply: most of it is imported over the bridges in trucks, traveling an average of 1,500 miles to reach our plates.
These nutrients coming over the bridge do not just disappear after being eaten: they accumulate, year after year, decade after decade, in our groundwater, and eventually in our rivers, ponds and estuaries.
Complete reliance on imported food— and fertilizer— puts our long-term food security at risk. One of the fundamental ecological challenges of our region (and our civilization) is to develop safe ways to recycle these nutrients back into productive agricultural processes.
The bigger picture
As fossil fuels gradually become more expensive, food that is grown and transported by that energy will also become more expensive— and scarce, exacerbating demand for resources in an increasingly hungry world.
In a world where reducing greenhouse gas emissions is imperative, building a sanitation system based on fossil fuels is simply irresponsible. Floods and droughts brought on by climate change spells trouble for the most basic human needs: food and clean water.
On a local level, development, changes in diets and higher use of pharmaceuticals mean more pollution of the estuaries and freshwater ponds that make Cape Cod a popular place to live and visit. If we don’t act soon, the impacts on our fisheries and tourism-based economy could be severe.
Please see our suggestions for nutrient recycling on a home or community scale.