How to eat seasonally and reduce your carbon footprint

Friday, 1 October 20215 minute read
Pure Planet

Focusing on in-season produce can cut your carbon emissions. In this blog, Natalie shares what we discovered after eating seasonally for 21 days.

A Buddha bowl of homegrown vegetables

Photo by Alberts on the Community

Taking steps to live sustainably can seem daunting. We’ve all been there – what do I recycle, when? Should I buy this takeaway coffee? What food should I buy when, and from where?!

That’s where our 21 day challenges come in. Each month, the Pure Planet team and our amazing Community Members are setting each other new challenges, each one connected to sustainability.

Why 21 days? They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Over time, we hope that these small challenges will become part of our everyday lives.

We’ve just completed our first challenge – eating seasonally in September. Many of us chose to add the extra challenge of eating only British produce too, to reduce our food miles as much as possible.

Why eat seasonally?

In the UK we’re lucky enough to have amazing supermarkets, which are full of fresh produce all year round. As convenient as that is, it does mean it’s easy to forget that the strawberry you’re eating in October was probably grown using energy-hungry heating systems. Or that the apple you’re putting in your crumble was flown in from South Africa.

Shifting the focus back to seasonal food can help cut your carbon footprint. The more in season the food, the less likely it’s been grown in a greenhouse, or using heat lamps and incubators. According to EUFIC, ‘fruit and vegetables with the lowest GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions are those that are grown outside during their natural season without much use of additional energy and consumed in the same country or region.'

Interested in reducing your carbon footprint by up to 7%? Here's how to eat seasonally and do exactly that.

Support local

On day one of the challenge, I was really disappointed to find my local supermarket had very low stock of seasonal, British, produce. The only thing I could get were courgettes. As much as I like them, I knew that wouldn’t cut it for the week’s food shop.

So I headed to my local greengrocer, and was blown away by the amazing range of seasonal ingredients available. They even let me know where in the UK the fruit and vegetables were from. Knowing I was trying to reduce my food miles, I opted for English-only.

It felt amazing supporting a local high street business, plus it meant completely avoiding plastic packaging. Instead I opted for paper bags.

English plums for sale at a greengrocer stall

Grow your own

Some of the Pure Planet team are lucky enough to have their own allotments or garden space. They shared some of their harvest throughout the seasonal challenge, and it all looked mouth-wateringly good!

Through growing their own fruit and veg, they were able to limit their supermarket spending, and had an abundance of fresh produce to choose from throughout the month.

One of the highlights was Linda’s breakfast compote made from her allotment’s raspberries, and her amazing veggie haul (this particular bunch went towards a Sunday roast).

Homegrown herbs and green vegetables in the garden

Don’t have a garden? We recently shared a blog all about growing your own from the comfort of your home.

Supermarket sweep

Community Member Bev proved that you can still achieve a British-focused diet when shopping in a supermarket – you just have to keep your eyes peeled. At first it proved challenging, but with a bit of support and inspiration from other Community Members, by week two of the challenge this was her take:

“It was strange actually, walking thru the veg and fruit having to not only focus on my shopping list, in addition to Covid, but now also ensuring I was buying local as best I could 😳👍👏😁. It’s good tho, makes you really aware of how we’re doing a tiny bit to help the planet, and also a teeny bit easier than last week, showing it’s already starting to become the norm.”

Bev also swapped her usual pasta for some Cornish potatoes, and noted that just by making the bulk of the meal seasonal, we’re still doing our bit. It all adds up, after all.

Get ready for winter

As the leaves start to fall, we look ahead to winter. That doesn’t have to mean giving up on all the gorgeous fruit and veg we get over the summer and autumn though.

Preserving your produce as chutneys, jams, compotes, or even just freezing them, can make them last that bit longer. Plus they make lovely presents (ahem did someone mention Christmas).

My freezer is stocked with strawberries grown by a neighbour, to throw into smoothies this winter. I also freeze a range of home-grown herbs, to keep things flavourful all year round.

Albert, a Digital Service Assistant at Pure Planet, perfectly summed up his experience over the 21 days; ‘the challenge was a great way for me to cook and bake more at home and appreciate even further the wonders of seasonal produce. It's not hard to eat in tune with seasons and one doesn't have to grow their own food… it definitely requires a bit of research and preparation, a few basic items in the kitchen and a bit of time and in exchange you get to eat more in tune with nature, nourish your body, support local economy and help preserve the environment. I will definitely continue to eat as seasonally as possible!’

Have we inspired you to take on our seasonal eating 21 day challenge? Let us know in the Community.

Community Manager