Summer brings with it longer days, warmer temperatures, and an abundance of fresh produce. This is the season where farmers’ markets are brimming with vibrant fruits and vegetables, each adding its unique flavor to our summer recipes. But beyond the pleasure of enjoying fresh, local food, there’s another, often overlooked, benefit to eating seasonally – it’s a simple yet impactful way to promote sustainability and limit food waste.
In the modern world, we’ve grown accustomed to having a myriad of food options available year-round. However, this convenience comes with a hefty environmental price tag. Out-of-season produce often requires long-distance transportation, energy-intensive storage, or greenhouse cultivation, all of which contribute to a substantial carbon footprint.
On the contrary, when we choose to eat seasonally, we essentially align our diets with the natural rhythms of agriculture. By doing so, we eliminate the need for artificial growing conditions and long-distance shipping. The result is a significantly reduced carbon footprint, making our diet more environmentally friendly.
Moreover, seasonal eating supports biodiversity in our food systems. By consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables as they become available throughout the year, we encourage the growth and distribution of diverse crops. This helps maintain healthy soils and ecosystems, and it fosters resilience in our food systems.
Let’s consider some of summer’s sustainable bounty:
Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are summer staples. Opting for local, in-season berries not only reduces carbon emissions related to transportation but also ensures you’re consuming the freshest, most nutrient-rich fruits.
Stone Fruits: Summer gifts us with peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots. These fruits, when locally sourced, support nearby farms and reduce the environmental impact of long-distance transport.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are incredibly flavorful in the summer. When you choose locally-grown, in-season tomatoes over those grown in heated greenhouses or imported from far-off places, you’re significantly reducing your food’s carbon footprint.
Corn: Nothing screams summer like fresh corn on the cob. By sourcing corn from local farmers, you ensure the freshest quality while supporting your local economy and reducing carbon emissions.
Summer Squash & Zucchini: These versatile vegetables are summer classics. Opting for in-season squash and zucchini from local growers not only ensures peak freshness but also lowers their environmental impact.
Greens: Leafy greens like arugula, spinach, and Swiss chard peak during summer months. Consuming these nutrient-dense vegetables seasonally supports local farmers and encourages diversity in your diet.
Herbs: Fresh herbs such as basil, mint, cilantro, and dill thrive in summer. Using them in your summer recipes not only enhances flavor but also supports local, often organic, growers.
Eating seasonally also promotes a more intimate connection with your food. You become more aware of the agricultural calendar and develop an appreciation for the effort it takes to grow your food.
Moreover, it also reduces food waste. When we buy seasonal produce, we often buy what is abundant and fresh, which we are more likely to consume before it spoils. Additionally, seasonal fruits and vegetables, when ripe, are at their peak flavor, making them more enjoyable to eat and less likely to end up in the bin.
So, this summer, let’s make the most of the season’s bounty. By choosing to eat seasonally, we’re not just tantalizing our taste buds with the freshest produce; we’re taking a significant step toward sustainable living and minimizing food waste. After all, every bite we take is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. As we relish the flavors of the season, let’s also savor the joy of treading lightly on our beautiful planet.
Author: Omar Perez