With all the technological advances in agriculture – keeping greenhouses warm in winter to produce summer fruit, importing from other warmer states or countries – we’ve kind of lost track of which produce is in season and what’s not. The supermarkets will sell tomatoes year round, but do the tomatoes you buy in winter really taste the same as the ones you buy in summer? That should be the first sign that something is “off” – it’s just not natural. To help save the world, you can reduce the amount of CO2 you’re responsible by eating what’s in season.
How does this help bring down levels of CO2? Simple. Buying tomatoes or strawberries in winter means that you’re either buying fruit that was produced in a heated greenhouse (emitting more CO2 than it would if it were grown in the summer) or flown in from another country (which emits lots of CO2). By eating produce that’s in season, like carrots and apples, you’re supporting natural farming that doesn’t require food to be flown in or grown with artificial heat.
So how do you know which food is seasonal? One way is to do your grocery shopping at a green or organic store, which probably knows what’s sustainable and what’s not. They will probably stock up on seasonal products. For example, in France, there is a great shop called “Biocoop” that sells a variety of local produce, sustainably-produced goods, or organic products. They won’t sell tomatoes in winter, and for each month they’ll hang a poster like the one below that shows which fruits and vegetables are in season in February in France, along with a recipe:
Notice how food varies from season to season and even month to month. Also, a portion of this map has tropical and exotic fruit that are in season in areas that aren’t too far from France, like the Mediterranean.
Another tip for remembering which food is seasonal is looking for seasonal recipes and eating dishes that are “seasonally” appropriate. For example, this site (Deliciously Ella) will let you filter winter recipes. That’s another way to know which ingredients you should prefer.
So what should you look for in February in the Northern Hemisphere?
- Pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, other squashes
- Kale, spinach (they include different types of lettuce on the poster, I’m a little skeptical, but I suppose lettuce uses less energy than tomatoes).
- Carrots, leeks, potatoes
- Turnips, parsnips
- Beets, radishes
- Onions, garlic
- Cabbages, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
- Apples, pears
- Citrus fruit (Florida, Mediterranean)
- Avocados (Mexico, Mediterranean)
- Pineapples and mangoes (stretching this a little far, but still better than buying strawberries in winter).
What should you look for in February in the Southern Hemisphere? Using Brazil and this website as a reference:
- Starfruit, figs
- Coconuts, cupuaçu
- Guava, graviola
- Jaca fruit
- Citrus fruits
- Apples, pears
Choosing fruits and vegetables that are in season is vital to preserving the health of our planet. We shouldn’t waste energy and emit CO2 to transport or create produce that’s not in season. Look at the variety of food that is in season already! Can’t we content ourselves with those delicious products, creating a seasonal variety of dishes, instead of needing to have everything at our fingertips all the time?
You can’t force nature without consequences. Going back to only eating what’s in season is learning to respect the Earth and giving it time to replenish itself. Appreciate what the Earth gives you now, and the Earth will appreciate you back by becoming an enjoyable, clean and healthy planet.