Everything should be available everywhere and anytime, including fruits and vegetables. Whether strawberries at Christmas or plums in February. In our society, it has become a convenience to have unlimited access to everything we desire. There is hardly any fruit or vegetable that is not available the whole year in our supermarkets. But what exactly does this mean for our environment and our health? And why is it probably better to eat sesional and perhaps avoid our loved asparagus from South America?
But firstly what is behind the word “seasonal”?
I am sure that all of you have someone in your family who owns a small (or large) garden and has already brought you a fresh salad or some delicious cherries. And for sure these were much tastier than the products from the supermarket that once traveled halfway around the globe. Seasonal nutrition means buying fruit and vegetables that are naturally ripe at certain times of the year and are produced regionally or at least in the immediate region. It’s not the case that there are no sesional fruits and vegetables in the supermarket. You just have to search in the right month.
Are asparagus from Mexico that bad?
In Switzerland, half of the fruits and vegetables consumed are imported. They not only come by truck from the surrounding countries like Spain or Italy, they are also imported by plane or ship from all over the world. Especially fruits and vegetables such as litchis, passion fruit and asparagus are always transported by air, because of their short shelf life. They are usually harvested green and later treated with artificial ripening accelerators to ensure that they are ready for our supermarkets. Air transport with its CO2 emissions has the greatest impact on the climate, followed by truck, rail and ship. This is a particular burden on the environment.
Why not regional tomatoes in january?
Not everything that isn’t seasonal comes directly from abroad, it often comes from your own region. Therefore they build huge greenhouses, where the humidity has to be controlled constantly. The energy is often obtained from gas or oil, which causes ten times more CO2 emissions than a sun-ripened tomato from Spain. It has also been proven that pests grow better in a greenhouse climate, so it’s urgently necessary to treat the fruits and vegetables with several pesticides. Unlike seasonal fruits and vegetables grown outdoor, are the others harvested green in the greenhouses, transported to the warehouses and also here they are treated with artificial ripening accelerators. Which also harms our health.
No more strawberries for Christmas
Unfortunately, we are all very used to the fact that we can always and at any time eat whatever we like. But there are a lot of good reasons why seasonal fruits and vegetables are important. They definitely taste better when harvested fully ripe. The natural sunlight and the good soil provides important nutrients for development and last but not least they grow by themselves and without much human influence, which means that no pesticides or genetic modifications are necessary.
I hope that you will pay attention during your next grocery shopping and ask yourself the question: “Do I really need these strawberries now in December or can I wait until June when the strawberries grow in the fields nearby?”