It’s week twelve of 52 Weeks for Earth, the 52-week challenge to gradually reduce your impact on the planet. This week’s challenge comes hand-in-hand with last week’s challenge to buy local. We’ll be keeping our food local by eating in-season produce, or going foraging.
Once you’re choosing to only buy local products you’ll fall into the habit of buying what’s in-season naturally, as it’s all that’s available to you fresh. As we learned last week, transportation makes up 11% of your food-related climate footprint, (the biggest contributor being what you choose to eat). This transportation impact is largely due to importing foods that are unable to be grown locally, such as out-of-season products.
Unfortunately, along with the many comforts of modern life, we’ve come to expect every kind of food to be available to all year-round. This is truly unnatural though; in cultures that live off the land their food sources change with the season, utilizing what’s available to them.
Eating in-season produce is the most authentic way to feed yourself, as it’s the food that suits the season and supports your body’s natural nutritional needs. Hearty root vegetables are warm and filling in the winter, while leafy greens offer fresh and light summer salads. Eating seasonally also ensure you get a wide variety of food in your diet, not just your regular favourites.
So what’s in-season in my region?
Now you’re keen to buy your produce in-season, you might want to figure out what your options are before heading to the store, perhaps while doing your week’s meal planning. Luckily there’s a lot of great tools online to tell you just that, such as Seasonal Food Guide in the US, or you can find one for your region with a simple Google search like “what’s in-season in ____”. Alternatively, get along to your local farmers market and ask the staff, they’ll know what was harvested yesterday, as they might have been the one to do the harvesting!
Give foraging a try!
What better way to find local in-season food than to explore what’s growing wild in your area? For example, right now where I live, I’m able to find wild rhubarb, chives, nasturtiums, spruce tips, and dandelions which have a number of uses for food! Just make sure to do your research before you start eating roadside plants though! Learn what can be foraged in your area, how to identify those plants, and know what potentially poisonous look-alikes to avoid.
As we learned last week, buying locally not only reduces your footprint, but supports your local farms, communities and economy. The best way to eat locally is to stick to a seasonal diet, and resist the urge to buy whatever foreign produce is available at your big grocery store chain. Produce grown in-season also requires far less human assistance, such as pesticides and preservatives to grow and be sold, which means it can be more organically grown.