Maybe it’s just me but I recall a time when I didn’t think twice about reaching for that shiny avocado at any time of year, tempting me with its rich green hue and the unspoken promise of its silky, luxurious texture.
However, since there has been a shift towards supporting local growers and producers, particularly in Ireland, naturally I’ve begun to think twice before reaching for fruit and vegetables which are readily available on supermarket shelves all year round.
Of course, our ability to grow practically every variety of fruit and vegetable at any time of year is a gift that our ancestors would no doubt have appreciated greatly. We want for nothing. I can go to my local supermarket or corner store and pick up a pineapple or a bunch of bananas which have been grown at the other side of the world and are available to me for a ludicrously cheap price, despite the sheer distance which they have travelled to reach my shopping bag.
However, such convenience and endless choice comes at another price. A price which was previously invisible but is now coming to light, as we begin to realise and understand our impact on the earth.
Questions such as why are we choosing to buy fruit and vegetables shipped from foreign lands, when we produce our own beautiful, in-season produce? Such produce does not need to travel far to reach our plates – it is a simple change to make.
Now, I am not suggesting that you completely stop buying exotic produce. I love a slice of watermelon and I am impartial to a side of guacamole. All I am asking is that you reduce your reliance on imported produce.
Local foods can be found at farmers markets (Tramore Farmers Market), in artisan food stores (Ardkeen Quality Food Stores in Waterford are a great retailer supporting local growers) and even on the shelves of large retailers. I found Irish, seasonal apples for sale in Tesco recently! A quick label check for the country of origin when buying packaged fruit and vegetables in supermarkets will inform you of where your food has come from.
In terms of cost, many people think that local food is expensive and unaffordable, compared to the low prices we pay in the likes of Lidl and Aldi. However, this is not the case. As the produce is seasonal and often organic, farmers need to move their product quickly when they harvest an entire crop and in order to do so, they sell them at affordable prices. You are also more likely to buy only what you need when you shop for local produce, as the number of choices isn’t overwhelmingly large, unlike in supermarkets. You are presented with what is in season which results in a simpler, more mindful shopping experience.
If you are ever in doubt about what is in season in Ireland, Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) have all of the information you need and they provide a breakdown for each month.
Progress comes by taking small steps. Maybe in November you could swap those oranges for some Bramley apples or reach for a celeriac as opposed to an aubergine.
Take advantage of the seasons. Produce tastes even better when grown in season. Not only will you have a positive impact on the planet but your taste buds will scream with delight.