Food. We eat it all the time. It is vital to our bodies and lives, providing us with the nutrients and fuel we need to thrive. It is also has some of the biggest environmental impacts, due to it being part of our everyday lives 3 plus times a day.
Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, "flexi-tarian", or an omnivore, at the end of the day we all eat food and unfortunately that food costs the planet, in one way or another, in order to be grown, harvested, processed and brought to our plates. With the planet being in such an unstable state and the consequences of our human activities intensifying, it is really important that we do what we can to reduce our impacts and change the systems currently in place. What we eat is one of the easiest places to start, since its something we do 3 or more times a day.
Food is something that we as the everyday human being have complete control over. We determine what we eat, where we eat, how eat, what we buy and where we buy it from. By empowering ourselves with information we can make those choices wisely.
What is Seasonal & Local Eating?
Seasonal eating is eating in tune with the natural pattern of Earth's seasons. This means that you only eat produce that grows naturally during that season. Local eating is eating food that is grown as close to you as possible. Eating local produce means that it has had to travel less kilometers (or food miles) in order to reach your plate.
Why Does it Matter?
Transporting food from across countries or even overseas generates a huge amount of greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming. The Shipping of food is responsible for more than 18% of some air pollutants, and air transported foods generate 177 times more greenhouse gas emissions than ships. Food grown outside of it's natural season requires a lot more resources such as pesticides and fertilisers to be grown, as it is not adapted to the weather and climate of that different season.
Global food trade also means a lot of food loss and waste. Strict food regulations on size, colour and shape result in vast amounts of food waste when produce does not meet the required standards. Food is damaged during transportation and, often due to the large travel distances, it is picked much too early.
What are the Benefits?
As you can see eating food out of season or from far away causes a lot of impacts to the planet. By supporting local seasonal produce you can avoid the large food miles, out of season GMO crops, loss of biodiversity, and the unbalancing of the natural cycles of life.
It also benefits community and by supporting local small scale farmers you can encourage more local produce to be grown in your area. Another perk of local produce is that its fresher, usually naturally or organically grown, and tastes much better! Eating seasonally also benefits your bank, as produce grown in season is usually MUCH cheaper than when its out of season.
As Always, Do What You Can
That is my motto, because I know that it can be extremely overwhelming sometimes to be so aware of all the issues in the world and the impacts our actions have. I don't want to scare you and make you feel depressed about it because that won't help anyone! Rather take this knowledge and do what you can with it. You don't need to be perfect and that's not what our planet needs. Buying fresh, local and seasonal fruits and veggies can be pretty easy to do, but trying to buy items such as beans, rice, pasta and processed goods such as tinned foods, crackers, and snacks, can be a lot harder to buy local because some of those things just don't naturally grow in our country. For example, pretty much all rice is grown in Asia because that's where/how it likes to grow best. Here in South Africa, we don't have the resources to grow rice and so all the rice available in our stores is likely going to be imported. All we can do is make the best choices we can with what is available to us and never give up. We're all in this together!
I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new! Stay tuned for Monday's post as I will be sharing a simple guide to buying, choosing and eating seasonal produce!
Have a beautiful weekend,
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