We are eating our way to extinction. It is time that we change our eating habits in order to be more sustainable before it is too late.
With a growing season that starts in May and ends in September, Minnesotan farmers are unable to produce agriculture during the winter months. As a result, most fruits and vegetables are picked green and driven or shipped from warmer places including California and Mexico. According to a study done by the Food and Agriculture Association, transporting fresh fruits and vegetables across borders means that “around 14% of the world’s food is lost after harvesting and before reaching the retail level, including through on-farm activities, storage, and transportation.” Also, large quantities of carbon dioxide are emitted into the air due to long-distance transportation which accounts for 14% of the energy used for food production.
Eating a wide variety of local fruits and vegetables in the winter is impossible. But giving up some variety to eat local is worth it. Learn about the various CSAs (community-supported agriculture) and co-ops available. Winter CSAs offer food that can be preserved and stored in the winter months. Greta Sikorski, Featherstone Farm’s business manager said, “With a winter CSA, people see that they really can eat at least a majority of their vegetables locally in the winter.”
While it may be too late this year, vegetables are able to be stored in the winter: carrots, potatoes, onions, cabbage, squash, and more. Freezing, canning, and dehydrating are all great ways to eat local fruits and vegetables in any season. A quick google search can lead you to many simple and yummy canning, freezing, and dehydrating recipes.
It is important for everyone to do their part and make changes in order to lessen the environmental impact of non-local food production. Stay mindful of where your fruits and vegetables come from and find ways that you can make a difference. Even if it is just little things, such as encouraging your parents to stock up on easy-to-store local vegetables or freezing a lot of local fruit before the winter, these changes can make a big difference and benefit future generations.