With fall in full swing, a lot of produce is going out of season. Despite this, it is still easy to get your hands just about every type of fruit or veggie. But the next time you're at the grocery store, consider the full cost of that imported carton of strawberries.
Eating out-of season fruits and veggies takes a toll on your health, your wallet, and the environment.
(Photo: Rhett Maxwell/Wikimedia Commons)
But how bad can eating out-of-season produce really be?
The cost of growing and harvesting out-of-season produce is much higher than regular season growth. That watermelon you are about to buy in the middle of November was probably grown in a heated greenhouse thousands of miles away. The increased cost of harvesting and bringing that produce to the United States means that your grocer has to raise prices in order to curb production costs.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “the smog-forming emissions from importing fruits and vegetables are equivalent to the annual emissions from 1.5 million cars.” Purchasing imported, out-of-season produce only contributes to this environmental cost.
Eating fresh means enjoying the nutritional value of that produce. But once a fruit is harvested, it begins to lose the benefits that fresh produce has to offer. After a fruit or vegetable has been picked, shipped, and put in a grocery store thousands of miles from its origin, its vitamins have deteriorated quite a bit.
Are there alternatives to out-of season fruit?
Instead, look for your fruits and vegetables in the freezer section the next time you're at the grocery store. Frozen produce is a great choice during the non-growing seasons.
Frozen fruits and veggies were packaged while fresh. Studies suggest frozen produce may have higher nutrient content than regular produce. This is because freezing prevents nutrients from leaching out of the produce.
Not only do frozen fruits and veggies offer health benefits that regular, out-of-season produce does not, but it is also a financially conscious option. Going frozen means avoiding the increased cost of out-of-season produce typically seen during fall and winter.
(Photo: Maryland Pride/Wikimedia Commons)
Some companies that sell frozen produce even make a point to be environmentally conscious as well. Some companies take their unused trimmings and use them as compost, while others throw them out.
Less travel to get food to the grocery store means a lower environmental cost, so also make a point to research where your frozen munchies are coming from. Companies like Green Giant grow most of their frozen goods in the United States, for example.
During fall and winter this year, opt out of out-of-season fruits. Instead, spend some time in the frozen section to see what options are available to you.