The way we grow, shop for, and consume our food all has an impact on planet Earth. That’s why conscious consumers have been working to make our food ecosystem more sustainable with strategies like zero-waste grocery shopping and buying organic. And for those who want to go the extra mile, there’s another way to make shopping for your groceries a little greener: consuming local and seasonal products.
Simply put, eating local means buying food that’s grown on farms in your surrounding area. Eating seasonally refers to consuming fruits and vegetables that are currently in season in your specific region. There are a few reasons why doing so is beneficial.
Why Eat Locally and Seasonally?
One of the perks of eating both locally and seasonally is that it’s better for the environment. To understand why, let’s use strawberries as an example.
Strawberries aren’t in season year round; for most of the country, June is prime strawberry season. However, no matter where you live, you can typically find them in the grocery store at any point during the year. That’s because they’ve been shipped thousands of miles from the places where they are in season via plane, truck, or boat. That transport contributes to toxic greenhouse gas emissions — transportation of food alone makes up roughly 5% of the food sector’s emissions. Eating locally and seasonally reduces the need to transport food so widely across the country, making it the eco-friendlier option.
Another good reason to eat seasonally and locally is that it uplifts the community, benefiting the farmers in your area and contributing to the local economy. And, in many cases, it can save you money in the long run!
How To Shop For Local and Seasonal Food
The first step towards switching to local and seasonal food is to understand your local growing seasons. You can use resources like the Seasonal Food Guide to find what’s in season near you.
Consider starting a seasonal food journal to keep track of what’s available when. That way, you’ll have a good idea of what to look for when you start shopping.
Most cities and towns have weekly farmers’ markets, which are fantastic places to shop for local foods at. You can pretty much find it all there, whether you’re looking for local produce, meat, dairy, or breads. And since the food at farmers’ markets is local, it’s pretty much seasonal by default.
Food co-ops are another great option for finding local and seasonal foods. Food co-ops are member-owned grocery stores that often focus on more organic and sustainably-sourced foods, which means many place emphasis on selling goods that come from farmers in their local areas.
You can also shop directly from local farmers through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It works by subscribing to regularly receive produce boxes, usually weekly or biweekly, from your local CSA. Not only is this a great way to support local farmers, but it may also expose you to tons of new vegetables you’ve never tried before! And, if you’re looking to eat locally on a night out, you can always look out for good farm-to-table restaurants, which highlight seasonal and local fare on rotating menus. Bon appetit!