One of the more enjoyable ways to help reduce your carbon footprint is to eat sustainably. What does this mean? Well, quite simply – eat seasonally. Eat the foods that are naturally available in your area WHEN they’re available in your area.
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Not only will you be supporting local businesses and farms, but you will also be reducing your carbon footprint by not having your foods shipped in from other areas of the world such as Asia and South America.
Were you aware that our food travels an average of 1500 miles to get to your local grocery store and that the transportation of food causes over 30,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions to be released into our atmosphere every year? By switching yourself over to an organic, locally based food diet you can really help to make a change all the while supporting small and local business!
So, you want to make the change, but you’re not sure how. Well it’s easy. Start hitting your local farmers markets. If you’re not sure where the nearest farmers market is in your area, visit the Eat Well Guide.
You can go on their website, enter your zip code, a set of keywords if you want, and voila! You’ll be on your way to eating organically and sustainably. They have everything from bakers and restaurants that use local and organic ingredients to addresses and times for you to do your shopping at your local farmers market.
Another incredibly helpful resource for the seasonal foodie is “Sustainable Table”, by the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council). On their website you choose your local area from a drop-down menu and then choose the season (broken down by parts of months such as “early June” or “late October”).
Once that data is entered, it will direct you to a list of vegetables and fruit that are in season in your area. For example, I entered in Southern California/Early July and received the following list:
Apples, Apricots, Asian Pears, Asparagus, Avocados, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cherries, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Fennel, Grapefruit, Grapes, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Nectarines, Okra, Onions, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Peas, Pistachios, Potatoes, Radishes, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Scallions, Spinach, Squash, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Turnips
Nowadays, we cannot be too careful about where our food is coming from. Not only due to the huge environmental impact that shipping food causes, but also due to the issues of contamination, lack of regulation of organics in foreign countries, etc. When you eat sustainably and locally, you’re able to talk to the farmers and really know what is going into the food you are consuming.
It’s important to be informed about what you’re eating and how it’s being grown. If everyone in our country ate locally and sustainably, think of not only the environmental impact it would have, but also the health benefits!
Eating sustainably is good for us in so many ways. It can be a challenge at first, but look at it as an opportunity to get more creative in the kitchen and explore foods you’ve never eaten before. You might be in for a pleasant surprise.