Sustainability Sunday #19
I can’t stop thinking about food.
I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s the physical shock of not continuing the Christmas grazing or whether I’m subconsciously super pleased with myself for committing (more or less) to a much healthier diet than I was maintaining at the end of last year.
Since the New Year, by which I mean the 3rd of January as the 1st and 2nd totally counted as last year, I’ve been making juicy fruity smoothies to go along with my morning porridge, soups full of veggies and metabolism-pleasing spices and simple, low-carb dinners. Despite the odd craving for chocolate, salt and vinegar chipsticks and the salivation that comes with seeing Creme Eggs in shops (come ON retailers, really?!), I’ve been really satisfied by what I’m eating AND have really enjoyed actually shopping for all the delicious fruit and veg for each meal. What I like even better is the higgledy piggledy selection of produce you can pick up on the markets, they’re brighter, cheaper and usually local.
It wasn’t until I really started reading in to food sustainability a couple of years back that I understood the importance of buying local produce over supermarket chain produce. The international food retail market is a complex one, with many players – and alongside it, a pretty hefty environmental footprint. What’s great about it though, is that we as consumers have the power to make changes in this market. For Western nations in particular, food is abundant, therefore if we start choosing some products above others, we can change the demand for those products or brands. I’ve done a lot of reading and research, and found out a thing or two through my job, so to help you with your first step toward demanding sustainable food, we’ll start with a few pointers on shopping for local produce.
It’s important because:
You’re supporting your own local economy. In general, for every pound you spend with local independent sellers, there is roughly three times the amount of money returned to the local economy than if you spent that pound at your local supermarket. Visiting the markets also reduces the distribution footprint of your food; its more likely to have done a few miles in a little white van than sat with thousands of other tomatoes and bananas travelling thousands of miles through the air. Alongside this, local producers are better for the environment as not only are their products covering less distance, they usually use less land for growing and typically provide what’s in season i.e. not heating greenhouses to Mediterranean temperatures all through winter.
It makes a difference to you by:
It’s cheaper! Market produce often costs the growers less to yield, they haven’t got to pay as high a delivery cost and don’t face international trade taxes so they’ll be able to give you a better price. Your potatoes may have a few bumps and your tomatoes may have what can only be described as nipples, but they’ll be the juiciest, most flavoursome, naturally ripened fruit and veg you’ll ever have.
It makes a difference to producers by:
Simply supporting their business. Local producers are people-sized businesses, they tend to be those that care most about their product and their customers, good for you and good for them.
It makes a difference to the food retail sector by:
Increasing the demand for more sustainable products. More people choosing local changes the market dynamic: increasing the presence of those amazing suppliers in the food retail market and encouraging larger supermarkets to adapt their supply chain so you can get what you want.
You can shop at:
Every local market ever! I go to the Leather Lane market in Holborn, London where there’s a few select stalls that have an amazing array of fresh fruit and veg for super cheap.
All you have to do is Google “food markets near me” (other search engines are available) and you’ll be able to find the closest one to where you live or where you work, what they sell and when they’re open.
Go on, try it! 🌽 🍅 🍓 🥕 🍎 🥔 🍆 🍒 🍊