Eating food that is grown in your community, and eating it when it is fresh and in season, is not only good for your health and the environment, but it can also save you money.
What’s local food?
Where do your potatoes come from? What about your bananas? The packaging of your food should say which country it was grown in. Some of the food that you eat will be grown in your local area, in Scotland or the UK, but some of the food you eat will have been grown abroad.
Eating local means buying and eating food that has been grown in your community, region or country. Look out for products that are grown near you, and products labelled ‘Grown in Scotland’. A local farmers market is also a good way to find food that has been grown locally. You can find out what farmer’s markets or food co-ops are near you by searching the Community Food and Health Directory.
What’s seasonal food?
Have you ever been strawberry or blackberry picking? If you have, you have been picking seasonal food. Eating seasonal is trying to buy and eat fresh fruit and vegetables when they are in season in your area. In season, means the time of year when they are ripe, fresh and the tastiest.
There are key times of the year when fruits, vegetables, meat and fish will be at their best. Take a look at the Eat Seasonably calendar.
If we eat food out of season it often has been grown abroad. Strawberries are at their best season in June, so if we buy them in the supermarket in December most likely they will have been flown in from a hotter country.
Why eat local and seasonal food?
Eating food that is fresh and in season usually tastes a lot better. Local food is picked in the last 24 hours, and seasonal food is picked at its peak taste. If your food has had to travel from abroad it won’t be as fresh and will often have been picked before it is ripe.
Fresh food is also healthier for you than processed food. Processed food is food that has been changed in some way from the original raw ingredient. Every time the raw materials are processed some of the nutrients are lost. Most food we eat is processed, for example wholemeal bread is processed when the wheat is made into flour and then into bread. You want to avoid food that has sugar, fat or salt added to it. Fresh food is the best because it has more of the original nutrients.
Eating local and seasonal food is better for the environment. The less your food travels, the lower its carbon footprint. If you buy local food then it doesn’t have to travel as far from the field to your plate. If your food is flown in from abroad, its carbon footprint will be a lot bigger. You can find out more about reducing carbon on the Carbon Footprint page.
Looking back to the horse-meat scandal. Eating Scottish meat that has been produced locally means you have a better idea of where your meat comes from and what is in it.