As a society, we live in a world where we expect everything to be instant and accessible- including our food. It has become the norm for apples to be available all year round, and to be able to buy strawberries in December. If you fancy a banana, you just go to the closest supermarket- it’s that easy! We have become so disconnected from the food we eat that we don’t question why we’re eating a banana from Ecuador or enjoying raspberries when there’s snow on the ground. The damage this disassociation is doing to our environment is widespread, and changes need to be made urgently.
Currently, 95% of our fruit comes from abroad, along with over half of our vegetables. The carbon emissions produced by this transportation is greatly damaging the environment. In fact, studies have shown that if air freight is used for a product, the carbon emissions of that product go up by a factor of 10. Buying British produce obviously reduces these carbon emissions, however, it doesn’t completely solve the problem if you’re still buying from across the country. Ideally, we need to be looking at buying locally. If you buy from a shop selling local produce, it’s likely that the food has been grown 10-30 miles away, and is coming straight from the farm that grew it. It is also likely that this food has been harvested within the last 24 hours (rather than over a week ago), meaning it will be much fresher.
Buying in season is also vital. You can buy British tomatoes throughout the year, however, this does not mean they are in season all of the time. When not in season, they will have been grown under heated glass for much of the year. For tomatoes grown out of season under heated glass in the UK, CO2 emissions are about 2.5kg per kg of fruit. When you compare this to the CO2 impact of trucking them in from Spain, where they grow naturally, the emissions of carbon is 10 times greater. This shows that although it is important to buy locally, it is even more important to buy in season.
If we want to save our planet it is vital that we start being more conscious about where our food is coming from. Making some small changes isn’t hard but can make a big difference, and you might even discover something new you like along the way.
The beneﬁts of buying locally and in season include:
•A lower carbon impact
•Supporting your local area
•Produce is likely to be organic
•Higher appreciation for what you are eating (not having access to strawberries all year round means when you do eat one, it will taste all the better)
Local and Seasonal Shopping Tips:
•Visit farmers markets! There are over 300 markets held weekly across the country. Take a look here to locate your nearest market.
•Buy from shops that have a proven link to a nearby farm- butchers, bakers, greengrocers, and delis are all great places for this.
•When in a supermarket, look for the Union Jack ﬂag on produce.
•Before you pick up a piece of fruit or veg, think twice about where that has come from. For example, it doesn’t take much thought to realize bananas don’t grow naturally in the UK.
• Consider Box schemes- these provide fresh, seasonal produce from smaller producers right to your door. The Soil Association is a great website to get more information on the schemes available.
•Farms with a Pick Your Own Scheme are worth a visit- picking your own produce can be fun, and you’ll have the assurance of knowing that what you’re picking is both local and in season. Go here to find farms local to you.
Is working as an intern for Zero Waste Club, bringing together her love of the environment and her passion for writing. She has a love of nature and the outdoors and is always looking to encourage more people to lead a zero waste life. You can find her on Instagram as @poppyrobson.