Why We Should all be Eating Local, Seasonal Foods
The ‘farm to table’ movement has steadily increased in popularity as more people question the origin and provenance of the food they eat. Ironically, eating local ingredients is not a new trend, but a return to the way humans have survived for millennia.
It is only in recent years that international agricultural trade has created a mentality of ‘seasonless’ eating. We can go to the local supermarket and buy a mango from India without thinking twice. But this incredible access to produce from around the world has created a disconnect between us and the food we eat.
A survey of over 2,000 adults found that UK population is completely out of touch when it comes to knowing which foods are in season. One in ten thought that all fruit and veg are harvested year round, and over 60% saw no need to change their eating habits according to the season. While the odd mango in December is a treat, we need to reverse the trend of seasonless eating. Here are our top reasons why:
It's Better for the Environment
Yes, ‘food miles’ is a thing. It refers to how many miles an item of food has travelled from where it was grown to the consumer. For instance, let’s consider buying a pineapple at Tesco. Costa Rica is one of the largest exporters of pineapples and supplies UK stores like Tesco. As the crow flies, it’s over 8,700 km to get from Costa Rica to the UK, and this is not taking into account all of the stops the pineapple will make before landing on the shelf at Tesco. But it’s not just pineapples. The UK imports nearly 50% of total food consumed! This is not only dangerous for UK food security but adds unnecessary environmental cost to the food we eat. Eating local would help solve this problem.
It's Better for Your Wallet
Why are avocados so expensive, but summer watermelons so cheap? Aside from the obvious transport costs attached to imported foods, there is also the influence of simple supply and demand. When we are eating local, we eat the crop that is currently in abundance. This helps to drive down the cost, making it a healthy choice for our wallets too!
It's Better for Your Health
The majority of produce is picked when it is still unripe and hard. This is in efforts to prevent food bruising or going bad during transportation from farm to market (which can be thousands of miles…). The problem with picking under-ripe produce is that they have not reached their peak nutrient levels. Often times produce looks ripe and colourful, but it is common practice to chemically ripen it in warehouses so it looks good for sale. Call us crazy, but somehow adding chemicals to nutrient-deficient produce just doesn’t seem like the healthy option to us.
We all know that nothing beats the taste of freshly picked Strawberries, or a juicy ripe heirloom tomato right off the vine. Fresh ingredients simply taste better! This is also related to the time of harvest. When you harvest fruit and vegetables that are not fully ripe, they have not had time to reach their peak tastiness!
Overall, eating in tandem with our environment’s natural rhythm is the most sustainable way to eat. Instead of bending nature, we should be eating local, consuming the produce that naturally thrives in our region for a cheaper, tastier, and healthier option!
Here is a graph to help you find what foods are in season.