Food Less Travelled

Aug 31, 2023 | Magazine


Written by Face The Current

August 31, 2023

Nowadays, we enjoy a wide variety of produce from all over the world without being limited by seasonal availability. Actual seasonality in food production is sadly becoming a thing of the past as consumers expect all types of produce and exotic ingredients to be available all year round. This consumer demand has caused significant changes to the ways in which we store and transport our food. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost to the environment, quality, taste, and nutritional value of our fruits and vegetables. To meet this demand, our food is now transported further than ever before, by air, ship and road, and this sector of transportation is now a major contributor to increased greenhouse emissions, depletion of natural resources, and global warming. Transporting food by air creates carbon emissions ten times that of road transportation, and fifty percent more than transportation by sea (1). Airfreight is specifically and most commonly used to transport high-value and perishable foods like out-of-season berries. It’s estimated that in the U.S., fresh produce typically travels over 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate (2). So, unless you buy produce from local farms or farmers’ markets, you have no way of knowing when your food was harvested and how far it has travelled.

food less travelled

In fact, those shiny red apples in the grocery store may have been stored for up to a year before being displayed for sale. Because of this, one of the biggest concerns with transported produce is degradation and nutrient loss before it reaches shelves. Produce enzymes start the decomposition process and fruits and vegetables begin losing nutrients within twenty-four hours of being harvested. o, the more time they spend on a vehicle and in storage, the greater the loss of important vitamins and other nutrients. Simply put, locally grown foods are typically more nutritious than those found in supermarkets. Vine-ripened and organic produce that is grown closest to where you live is always the freshest, healthiest, and most nutritious choice. So, as enticing as those pricey out-of-season berries might be, you should hold off until summer when you can buy delicious, fresh berries ripened from a local farm. According to a study published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, local produce that is left to fully ripen on the vine contains higher nutrient values compared to produce picked before it’s ripe (3). And as a bonus, locally grown fresh, vine-ripened produce also tastes better!

food less travelled

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