Surf Addiction and the Environment:

To me, the thrill of surfing and the distinct feeling of being stoked can most adequately be described as an addiction. I first recognized my obsession when confronted by a friend after stating that I thought neoprene would make a good scent for perfume. I still think it would. I reluctantly confess that my addiction has fostered a new disorder that has me compulsively checking the Surfline app every half hour as though Mother Nature will answer my plea and change the report from “poor” to “good”.

My addiction is difficult to conceal since my body has developed signs that are simply too obvious to hide. Thanks to the intoxicating combination of salt and sun, my naturally black hair has turned to a golden-brown-blonde that has got everyone asking me, “Did you dye your hair?” The odd tan lines from my wetsuit make it hard to wear a short skirt and not get asked the embarrassing question, “Why are your ankles darker than your legs?” Then, there is the sand residue that clings to my ankles and arms that make it even harder to deny where I’ve been.

Even if I am able to cover the physical signs on my body, it only takes a few minutes to notice how deep my habit runs with a quick tour of my home. The sundry collection of surfboards that invades my patio and living room are obvious clues to where my money goes. Hanging in my bathroom you will find an array of stringy, colorful bikini tops that have only been worn once – but never to be worn again because they all fail to stay on while surfing. Wardrobe malfunctions, odd smells, salt, and the euphoric feeling of stoke I get when I conquer a wave is what I live for. At least I am not one of the addicts in denial, right?

As my addiction grows, so does my consciousness of the undeniable fact that surfers and non-surfers alike have a significant impact on my precious surf. Everything from cigarette butts and plastic bags to sewage and toxic-laden-water can be credited to the handy work of humans. These damaging effects have taken shape over centuries and their ramifications have exacerbated exponentially especially in the past several decades.

However, as surfers, it is evident that these reckless acts of humanity can impede our daily fix of stoke if something is not done quickly and effectively. Personally, I can’t just sit back and accept the destruction of my beloved ocean and ride the metaphoric wave of “tolerance.” If you are a surf junkie like me, then you should be willing to do anything to sustain your fix of stoke. And what does a junkie do when they need to sustain their fix? They hustle. A surfer’s hustle may be a bit different than one would assume when thinking of a drug junkie hustling. The surfer’s hustle begins with accepting responsibility as protectors of the sea. If surfers don’t accept responsibility, who else will?

Hustling includes awareness, action, and encouragement. Surfers should become aware of the activities that cause the issues that jeopardize our next fix and how we can foster change. A simple start can be done by supporting local activist groups who are dedicated to protecting preserving our beaches and waves like the Surfrider Foundation, Save the Waves Coalition, and Sustainable Surf. The hustle, however, can be as simple as throwing away trash you see while exiting the water. But the underlying obligation as surfers is accepting the responsibility as caretakers of the sea. If every surfer shares in the hustle, our fix will never be in jeopardy of being a closeout.

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Margaret Badore (@mbadore)
Living / Green Food
February 10, 2015

Over the past decade, the United States has seen new farmers markets springing up around the country. The total number of these markets grew by 180 percent from 2006 to 2014, but a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests this growth is slowing down. In 2014, the USDA’s directory of famers had 8,268 market listings, with a growth rate of just 1.5 percent from the prior year.

On one hand, this could mean there’s been stagnation in the consumer demand for local food. The 2008 recession may be a contributing factor, as local food can be perceived as more expensive. From 2007 to 2012, the number of dollars spent at farmers markets, farm stands and community supported agriculture dropped by 0.9 percent.

But this drop in direct-to-consumer sales also coincides with the growth of intermediate markets, such as regional food hubs, restaurants, grocery stores and farm-to-school programs. The report suggests that growing consumer demand for local may now be met by retailers, rather than direct sales.

That’s not a bad thing for farmers, because setting up a farmer’s market stand can be time-consuming and less profitable than selling produce through an intermediary.

“It’s just not as cost-effective for producers to be face-to-face with consumers,” Sarah Low, a USDA economist and lead author on the report, told NPR. “A lot of farmers like to spend their time farming, not necessarily marketing food.”

It also worth noting that while direct-to-consumer sales decreased in regions like the West Coast and Northeast that have a high concentration of farmers markets, sales continue to grow in parts of the Midwest and Southwest. So, while parts of the U.S. may now have as many farmers markets as the local demand can support, there’s still opportunity in other regions (see map below).

USDA Economic Research Service, data from Census of Agriculture, 2012 and 2007/via

A sustainable food system should be supported by a backbone of local food. So, while the growth of more indirect markets for local food is very encouraging, hopefully a decline in direct-to-consumer sales isn’t a precursor to a decline in farmers markets themselves.

Farmers markets still do a lot of good. Having a stand at the local farmers market can be a good networking and marketing tool for farmers. Research has suggested that farmers markets also support other businesses adjacent to markets, thus contributing to job creation. Finally, having a direct human connection to food producers also helps increase the transparency of the food system and the customer’s connection to where and how our food is grown.