A very ‘eco’ Christmas – research reveals total ingredients bought over the festive period could rack up a staggering 15,890 miles to reach our plates

With sustainability riding higher on the news agenda than ever before, with the likes of COP26 recently taking place, this year is set to be the most sustainable Christmas to date, with many ‘dreaming of a green Christmas’.

Recent research commissioned by the UK and Ireland Mushroom Producers revealed on average, the total ingredients bought over the festive period could rack up an astonishing 15,890 food miles per person , the equivalent of travelling to the North Pole there and back three times!

To promote sustainable eating over the festive period, the UK and Ireland Mushroom Producers are working together with Matt Tebbutt, celebrity chef and TV presenter, to advocate for a more sustainable Christmas this year and encourage the nation to think about choosing locally sourced products.

As the 5:2 veg diet is expected to prevail as the newest food trend, opting for veggie meals five days a week, and consuming meat for two, mushrooms will be widely used as an alternative to meat, especially during the Christmas period. With a meat-like texture and umami flavour, the humble mushroom is a more nutritious and sustainable choice to incorporate into festive cooking.

What’s more, British and Irish mushrooms also travel far fewer miles than mushrooms imported from other Eastern European countries, spending up to 36 hours in transit and travelling more than 1,100 miles. Opting for home-grown mushrooms not only benefits the environment, but also helps support local farmers and producers, delivering fresher, more nutritious mushrooms as a result.
With plant-based diets evidently becoming more prominent, meat-free Christmas dishes such as the traditional nut roast and vegetable pies are expected to considerably rise, surpassing the usual turkey and lamb offering at the Christmas table.

Although, while many believe opting for plant-based Christmas dishes is an eco-friendlier option, most plant-based offerings are not as sustainable as we may think.

In fact, the research found traditional plant-based festive favourites including a nut roast and chestnut stuffing travel an astonishing 10,114 miles to reach our plates.

This is significantly more than the traditional Christmas dinner of a turkey roast, meat stuffing, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, sprouts and pigs in blankets, which travels up to 9,840 miles.
In particular, cranberries have proven to be an increasingly popular ingredient to purchase over the Christmas period (37 per cent). Yet, the festive favourite, cranberry sauce, can travel over 4,410 food miles alone to reach our tables.

Tebbutt states: “All of us want to enjoy a special Christmas feast this year with close family and friends, with last year’s festive season spent in lockdown. This being said, it’s important to consider a more sustainable Christmas too, looking closely at the festive ingredients we’re purchasing.

Mushrooms have been widely used in Christmas cooking over the years, due to their sustainability credentials, meat-like texture and versatile nature.

Tebbutt adds: “In fact, mushrooms travel far fewer miles to reach our plates in comparison to classic Christmas produce and are grown in the UK and Ireland all year round. From a delicious mushroom benedict to a showstopping mushroom wellington, mushrooms are proving to be a hero ingredient in all respects.”

Noel Hegarty, Spokesperson for the UK and Ireland Mushroom Producers comments: “With sustainability issues coming to the forefront this year, there are simple and mindful food swaps we should all be making to ensure our Christmas meals are as sustainable as possible.

“To reduce milage and carbon emissions on your festive feast, we want to encourage the nation to shop locally over the Christmas period, and on the big day itself, incorporating British and Irish mushrooms in a range of festive dishes to impress your guests.”

When purchasing Christmas ingredients such as mushrooms, it is important to check the country of origin, which can be found on front of pack, to ensure you are purchasing the freshest and highest quality produce available.

Food Miles Travelled:

Classic Turkey Dinner:
• Turkey – 0 miles (British)
• Sprouts – 273 miles
• Potatoes – 2,033 miles
• Carrots – 443 miles
• Bacon – 273 miles
• Cranberries – 4,410 miles
• Stuffing – 2,408 miles

Total = 9,840 miles

Nut Roast:
• Onion – 855 miles
• Celery- 855 miles
• Garlic- 855 miles
• Carrot – 443 miles
• Nuts – 4,410 miles
• Eggs – 2,695 miles

Total = 10,113 miles
Mushroom Wellington:
• Mushrooms – 0 miles (British and Irish)
• Onions – 855 miles
• Garlic – 855 miles
• Spinach – 299 miles
• Pastry – 0 miles
• British Stilton – 0 miles

Total = 2,009 miles

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