Do you know how far your veg travels?
It impacts your health, the economy, and the environment. But do you pay attention to how travelled your food is?
With the UK in lockdown, staying healthy is at the forefront of everyone's minds. As it's more difficult to keep fit in the ways we do usually, it's more important than ever that we are eating well.
For the most part, this means getting your five a day, but do we really consider what's involved in getting our favourite vegetables to us? How much attention do we pay to what veg is 'in season' and how that impacts the distance it travels to get to us?
The further vegetables have to travel, the greater the carbon footprint. So while eating veg is better for the environment, this is a sliding scale based on where it comes from. The distance it travels also impacts the goodness you take from it. The closer to the time it was picked, the more nutrients, so something picked yesterday will be better for you than something picked last week.
Research from The Mushroom Bureau, a partnership between local farmers, sellers and growers, suggests many of us fail to think about how far our veg travels, with around three in four stating they never check.
In response, it has come up with the Seasonal Vegetable League Table. It's not a snazzy new sporting event, but a record of how understanding which veg is in season allows us to consider how far it must travel to get to us at any given time of the year. It also highlights what locally sourced veg is available, and when.
Using 'hours travelled' as a measure, it has split our veg into three categories: the green zone contains the veg that takes the least amount of time to get from the ground to your plate; the red zone contains those that take the longest.
As you might expect from the Mushroom Bureau, top of the table and in the green zone are mushrooms. These are available all year round and are produced all over the UK.
What's in the red zone?
Those in the red zone include peppers and broccoli, which are some of the most popular veg for dinner in the UK. There are times where these fall in the green zone as they are being produced and distributed in the UK. When they are not in season, both these popular choices fall into the red, with some travelling a whopping 6,000 miles to make it to your plate.
A spokesperson from the Mushroom Bureau said, “Understanding seasonal eating can help when buying the freshest, most nutritious vegetables, a little closer to home. The Seasonal Vegetable League Table brings to life just where our vegetables come from, when out of season and helps people support local farmers who produce high quality veg right on your doorstep."
The full report can be found here and can help you determine what's in season, to help you watch your personal carbon footprint and achieve better nutrition from your veggies.