Three pillars of healthy and low-energy eating are these – eat organically grown food, eat food grown locally, and eat food that is in-season. Your food will not only have a smaller carbon footprint, you will eat more tasty food without harmful pesticides, you will help your local economy and probably save some money at the same time.
Organic Food Facts
- The energy savings you get from organic foods isn’t due to the lack of pesticides. Sure there is energy spent on manufacturing pesticides, but the lion’s share of energy savings comes from the lack of manufactured fertilizers. Industrial scale nitrogen fertilizers demand very high energy inputs, accounting for nearly half of the energy needed in farming.
- The Rodale Institute estimates that for instance the conventional production of corn uses 71% more energy than organically grown corn.
- OK, so not REALLY energy related, but of interest – here’s a list of the “dirty dozen+” fruits and vegetables with high pesticide residues, and the “clean fifteen” with low pesticide residues. So if you can’t afford or find organic food easily, at least try to concentrate on the dirty dozen if you are worried about chemicals in your family’s food.
- Where can I find an organic box program?
- In the UK, you can try http://www.findlocalproduce.co.uk/Veg_Box_Schemes (although, google “organic box scheme” and your town’s name and you might have better results. My organic box is EastCoast Organics, and I can add eggs, milk, bread and meat in my weekly delivery! Plus they carry the box up 2 flights of stairs to my flat door, bless them! You’ve gotta love that effort!
- In the US, I couldn’t find a nifty website, but please leave a comment if you know one! Again, google “organic produce box” and your hometown and you should find something.
Local Food Facts
- Buying food grown in your area will have less “food miles.” i.e. the number of miles it spent sitting on a lorrie/truck or in a plane to go from farm to your plate will be a lot less. There is an energy savings in that alone.
- Buying locally produced food support your local economy.
- Buying locally produced food help maintain those lovely greenbelts we love to protect.
- Buying locally produced food also help maintain food security.
- Supermarkets label where your fresh produce was grown, so next time take a look and see if your orange was grown in nearby (for those of us in the UK!) Spain, or from South Africa. And then choose your produce accordingly!
- Want to find out how and where you can buy locally produced food?
- In the UK, you can try http://www.local-farmers-markets.co.uk/find-farmers-market.html
- In the US, you can try http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/default.aspx
In-Season Food Facts
- In-season food means eating food that naturally grows or ripens in your area at that time. For instance, right now rhubarb is in-season in the UK, so the Rhubarb you buy will likely be from UK producers. So now is a great time to go out and eat some rhubarb. If you get a craving for rhubarb in October, you either won’t be able to find it in a store, or it will be grown half way around the world to get there. Try local autumn-fruiting raspberries then instead to get your sweet and sour fix.
- In-season food generally uses less energy, as it shouldn’t need extra transporting or heating to arrive on your plate.
- Eating in-season food will certainly make you appreciate what is on your plate all the more, and for some reason that always makes the food taste better!
If you are reading this now (late March), in the Northern Hemisphere. There rhubarb is in season!!! So go out and try some from your local farmer’s market if you have one. I just made rhubarb bars last night and they are to die for! The recipe is found here, along with 9 other non-crumble rhubarb recipes.
If you are a foodie and want to learn more about eating in-season. Try reading the amazingly talented cookbook by my local chef Tom Kitchin called From Nature to Plate.