5 Reasons to Eat Locally, Eat Seasonally
Post contributed by Sarah Bertin: In a world where 10 companies own all the world's food brands, it sometimes feels like we — consumers — are helpless in creating a more sustainable planet. But you can. You have the opportunity to act on climate change three times (if not more) a day. Eating seasonally and locally provides a quick, attainable way to make impact that ripples into waves. Although harvest times and precise crop availability vary yearly and regionally, here are seasonal guides for certain fruits and vegetables in North America, as well as the Northeastern United States.
Five BIG reasons to eat sustainably:
1. Help reduce your carbon footprint! Buying from your local farms means less fuel is needed to transport your food. Highly perishable foods, such as tomatoes, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and asparagus, are frequently imported using airplanes—the largest transport emitter. In 2005, airplanes importing fruits, nuts, and vegetables into California released more than 70,000 tons of CO2, translating into more then 12,000 cars on the road.
2. Did you know the appearance of fruits and vegetables determine whether they are sold at grocery stores? When a third of the world’s food goes to waste, looks should not be a determining factor for what is sold to consumers. Buying from your local market helps keep fresh, delicious fruit that grew awry on our kitchen tables. Hint: misshapen foods are often sold at a discount at grocery stores!
3. Shortening the supply chain helps decrease energy usage and waste. Packaging and storing food means more waste in our landfills. All modes of long-distance transport must you energy coolers in order to prevent spoilage and contamination. Safe food storage means more warehouses must be built to keep up with governmental health standards. Check out this diagram examining a typical packaged fruit product moving across the globe.
4. It’s good for the soil. Few articles, policies, or nonprofits speak to the need to protect soil—nonetheless, it is equally as important as our air and water. Ask your local farmers about their pesticide usage: pesticides cause plant dependencies and kill the life of the soil itself. Soil is made up of organic matter and minerals that provide nutrients for food and our plants free of diseases. Land degradation and harmful agricultural practices, like slash and burn farming, could greatly reduce global food productivity. This “has a knock-on effect on climate change because soils store significant amounts of carbon. EU soils store carbon that is equivalent to almost 50 times the EU’s annual greenhouse gas emissions and a release of just 0.1% of the carbon contained in European soils would equal the annual emissions of 100 million cars.”
5. Do it for your health! Eating a plant-based diet is more nutritious and incredibly delicious. One important tip: produce is the most nutrient-packed when you purchase produce at its perfect ripeness. Foods that must be transported to hit grocery stores are cultivated before they ripen, giving them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. And as your dollars start going towards fresh products, you’ll be helping decrease demand for processed foods. By eating plant-based diets, we can also potentially reduce national healthcare costs by 70-80 percent.