Eating food out of season is unsustainable for a number of reasons.
Transporting the food, as well as creating and transporting its packaging, uses fossil fuels and generates carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
Furthermore, produce shipped in from other places is often grown in monocultures, a practice that also has negative consequences for the environment.
However, there are other impacts beyond these environmental problems.
Eating out-of-season foods shipped in from other places compromises local food security by investing in a global system at the expense of a local one. It also leads to a loss of food knowledge, skills, and culture by disconnecting people from nature, seasonal rhythms, and the distinctiveness of locally produced foods.
Foods shipped vast distances are usually less tasty and nutritious because they are harvested before ripening and stored for long times (which often requires chemical treatments to increase their shelf life). Also, companies involved in mass production of fruits and vegetables typically grow varieties that produce high yields and keep best during transport rather than the most nutritious or best-tasting ones. Consumers of shipped produce pay for transport costs and receive an inferior product.
To eat seasonally, shop at local farmer’s markets, use a service that delivers fresh seasonal produce, or join a food co-op with friends and family to purchase seasonal produce in bulk at low prices.
Many people in Northern regions worry that they won’t have much local produce to choose from during the winter, but there are lots of vegetables harvested throughout the fall that store well, including carrots, beets, onions, squash, potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, and celeriac, as well as leafy green vegetables that can be grown throughout the winter. Some fruits such as apples can also be stored and fresh berries and many types of vegetables gathered during the summer freeze well, so you can have these year-round and still eat locally.
Farm Aid, “How Can I Eat Seasonally Year-Round if Nothing Is Growing in My Area?” December 2005. http://www.farmaid.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=qlI5IhNVJsE&b=2723877&ct=3852185
Sustainweb, “Eat the Seasons!” 27 April 2011. http://www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefood/eat_the_seasons/
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