Friday, 1 June 2012

The Endless Summer

Fresh vegetables at a street market
Image: Biswarup Ganguly
Everyone knows about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. But did you know that choosing the wrong ones could have an impact on your wallet, your wellbeing, and the environment?

The phrase "Endless Summer" was coined some years ago, to explain how it's always summer in some part of the world. This makes it possible to have fruit and vegetables on sale all year round, no matter whether they're in season or not. Thanks to an Endless Summer, they are always in season somewhere, and can be transported to store shelves anywhere in the world.

As you'd imagine, the environmental impact can be huge, especially if goods have to be kept refrigerated on the journey. And by the time they reach the store shelves, they're already a few days old and have lost some of their nutrients.

Of course, someone has to pay for the transport costs too. That would be you. Well volunteered!

The way around this? Look for produce that's grown in your home country, or at least close to it. Ideally, try to buy from local producers or farmers markets. If there's a poor harvest (which still happens even in developed countries) the local outlets will still have small amounts of local produce. The supermarkets, however, have to buy in bulk and will often buy abroad instead. The supermarket may be cheaper in this case, but don't forget that there is still a cost to the environment.

Even better than all this is to grow your own vegetables. It's easy (no, really it is), and you can start with a plant pot or grow bag on your patio or balcony.

We might not be able to make the summer last all year, but we can make food choices that have a feel-good factor.

Image: Vegetables by Biswarup Ganguly, CC-BY licence, obtained via Wikimedia Commons.

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