Seasonal diets could be the answer to food sustainability in 2021, says health expert

22 April, 21

On average, transporting food in the UK produces a whopping 19 million tonnes of CO2 annually – equivalent to around 5.5 million typical cars1, which is largely impacting the environment.

However, the UK grows some of the best local and high-quality produce in the world, which is stocked on our supermarket shelves.

In particular, the UK and Ireland Mushroom Producers provide enough mushrooms to supply the whole of the UK’s supermarkets, and are seasonally available 52 weeks of the year2.  

Importing produce such as mushrooms from across the world can spend up to 36 hours in transit, and travel more than 1,100 miles just to reach our plates3. These international mushrooms are inherently less fresh and have a significantly higher carbon footprint than their locally produced counterparts.

Leading nutritionist Rob Hobson says more Brits should start shopping seasonally to not only protect the planet, but to simultaneously support our health.

By eating produce grown closer to home, consumers can reduce their carbon footprint and support local businesses and suppliers in the process.

In fact, recent research has revealed that produce such as out-of-season berries account for around 11 per cent of the UK’s food-transport emissions4.

The trendy avocado can also travel a whopping 6,263 miles when out of season5.

Rob Hobson comments: “Eating with the seasons is something we can all do to help protect the environment, support local farmers and even save pennies on the weekly food bill.

“Choosing local produce helps to ensure that what we put on our plate is as fresh as it can be and hasn’t travelled countless food miles to get from farm to fork.”

Hobson adds; “Produce which is grown in season tastes better too, as it’s allowed to ripen naturally leaving it bursting with flavour. Produce sourced locally, such as mushrooms, is often more nutritionally dense as it’s picked at its peak of freshness and travels minimal distances.”

Eating seasonally is not only a more environmentally friendly option, seasonal produce also tastes better and supports the body’s natural nutritional needs.

For instance, throughout the winter months, leafy greens, such as spinach and kale are widely available, packed full of vitamin C to fight natural colds and flu, which are most prominent during winter6.

Meanwhile, summer boasts a wide range of hydrating fruits and vegetables, such as watermelons, strawberries and cucumbers to keep us cool and refreshed throughout the warmer months.

More fresh produce in the UK is also now being enhanced with vitamins, to help improve nutrient deficiencies amongst the population.

This being said, the latest NHS advice urges the public to consider increasing their vitamin D intake from 5 micrograms to 10 micrograms.

British and Irish farmers and growers are now enriching their year-round mushrooms with vitamin D, with just eight providing 100% of your daily recommended intake (RI).

Mushrooms are also a natural source of vitamins B2, B3, B5 and B6, with one 100g serving of Vitamin B6 mushrooms providing 30% of your daily recommended intake (RI).

When purchasing mushrooms from your local supermarket, it’s important to always check the country of origin, which can be found on front of pack to ensure you’re purchasing the freshest, highest quality produce available to you.

By supporting local producers, moving to a more sustainable diet, and wasting less food, Brits will create an increasingly sustainable food system that benefits all involved.

Rob Hobson suggests some simple seasonal swaps to reduce your carbon footprint and pack the most nutrients from your diet:

– Swap your Sunday morning smashed avocado, for some versatile and delicious sauteed mushrooms on toast or a tasty mushroom shakshuka

– Make time to ensure your fridge and cupboards are packed with fresh, seasonal foods

– Freeze some of the summer food offerings so you can utilise in the winter, meaning you can enjoy more local foods all year round

– Try fruit and veg delivery services throughout the year, delivering delicious surplus seasonal fruit and veg to your door, saving you time whilst also reducing food waste

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