As autumn has arrived, I thought it a good time to go on a bit of a nag about food choices.
With globalisation comes convenience. We can now eat avocado and strawberry throughout the year and have access to exotic fruits which only grow in areas half the world away. As easy as it is for us to add these to our shopping bags (it’s only a few €), we should really take a moment to consider what we are contributing to.
- Your fruits and vegetables are not ‘fresh’. They have been refrigerated for long times (sometimes months), shipped, trucked, sorted and treated with wax and preservatives, then put as display. Doesn’t sound grandly appealing….
- Conflict. It is said that the drive for avocado has created the atmosphere for violence in Mexico, and in a Chile community, water use has actually taken away the water from its residents and instead provided that water for avocado growing. (Learning much watching Rotten on Netflix) There are many more stories of farming conflict because of increasing demand for food items. Just google.
- Your food has travelled more than you. Take a moment and process … I can wait. 🙂
- Supports local farms. I am quite certain that you are not looking the country of origin when buying potato. When you are purchasing fruits and vegetables in the harvest season, there is high % that you are purchasing the food items from a local farm. Local farms are the markets most affordable option of sourcing foodstuffs. So you are contributing to your community, your own country’s economy and not having to take 2 hours reading packages in the market. 😉
- Cost. This is simply supply / demand. When the supply is limited because your lychee is only available in one geographic area for a short time, you are paying gold prices from it. When its autumn, and root vegetables are being harvested widely, you will pay a much lower price for those.
- The environment. Speaking the truth, making the shift to purchase seasonal foods is one of the simplest tasks you can do to contribute to the reduction of actions causing climate change. (It took me 5 minutes of thought to write that phrase correctly….there has to be a simpler way to say that.) That mandarin you are purchasing in February, travelled a long trip to get there. If you are wanting to reduce your ‘carbon footprint’, making a considered purchasing decision with these items will help you to lower it. Or maybe it doesn’t (in some situations). Think then, that you are contributing to the ‘demand’ of these items, which continues to increase the production of them.
Why should we eat seasonally when we have access to a world of options? Food items which have been harvested in the current season are more plentiful and there is a larger possibility that you are purchasing locally / sustainable. Traditionally, people only had access to the locally available, harvestable items in that season. Specialty refrigeration was not available to extend the ripeness of the plant nor were special waxes that could make fruit look like something from a animated movie. Mis-shapen fruits and vegetables of varying sizes were the norm and ruler-regulated items like cucumbers would have been considered as an absurdity. Then, you did not put food as waste only because it was not pretty. It was grown, and you ate it. It’s food.
Autumn seasonal fruits and vegetables vary by geography, of course. But some of the general autumnal harvest foods are potato, varying squashes, apples, carrot, onion, beetroot, turnip and cabbage.
I do understand that eating seasonally could feel quite restrictive. It has been a long process to eating foods unavailable to us, and it will be a long process back to basics. In my mind, it does seem that we still have a small bit of ourselves that does connect to seasonal eating. In the summers, we crave fruit, berries, light foods. In the cold months, our bodies tell us that thick soups and dips are what we need. Most of these are based with seasonal harvest foods. We just don’t seem to think so much about it.
As with all consumer-driven changes, you must remember that we, as consumers, have the power. The power of purchase, which to companies = the power of money. Simply not purchasing these items will send a message in a very loud voice, that it is time to slow our food down again.
Have we lost the connection to our food?