Make “Seasonal and Regional” Your Food Mantra
Strawberries in winter in Vermont? No problem!
We’ve become accustomed to having food from all over the world, without regard to what’s in season where we live and work, thanks to our global food supply. But in fact, it IS a problem.
Eating seasonally and regionally as much as possible means that the food you consume will travel fewer miles to get to your plate. You can feel less guilty about your coffee and chocolate from faraway continents if you’re not also consuming fossil fuel-drenched fruits and vegetables. Sticking to seasonal and regional also means it’s more likely that you are eating whole, unprocessed foods (see tip #5) that will be fresher, more flavorful and sometimes more nutritious than food chosen and picked based on its ability to withstand long distance transport.
However, local food doesn’t always equal lower carbon (see “Mooove Away From Beef and Cheese” for one great example of this). But it does mean that you are participating in the food system in an active way, by thinking about where and from whom your food is coming.
What You Can Do
- Learn about what your region grows and when, so you can make an effort to incorporate those foods into your diet.
- Visit your local farmers’ market and make an effort to buy whatever vegetables that farmers are selling. If you aren’t sure how to cook them, ask for ideas.
- Ask your supermarket to carry local foods that are in season.
- Become a member of a local CSA program, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. (Local Harvest has a searchable CSA database to find a farm offering one near you.) Every CSA operates differently, but regardless of the details, you will support a local farm, get to know members of your community, and be exposed to new vegetables and products grown close to home.
What Bon Appétit Management Company Is Doing
- We cook from scratch using fresh ingredients and write menus weekly specific to each café that we manage. This makes it possible for chefs to utilize local fruits and vegetables that are in season in their region, and be flexible to last minute modifications based on what farmers are harvesting any given day.
- We require that our chefs purchase at least 20 percent of their ingredients from small farms within 150 miles of their kitchens, through our Farm to Fork program. Visit www.cafebonappetit.com to see a map of our Farm to Fork vendors near you.
Learn More | Go to General Resources
- NRDC Smarter Living Eat Local Tool: Understand what is seasonal in your region
- Field To Plate: Lists of seasonal fruits and vegetables available by state
- Lexicon of Sustainability: Local
- Eat Well Guide
- Epicurious Seasonal Ingredient Map
- Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
- Sustainable Table: Eat Local
- Reducing Food Miles
- NRDC Food Miles
- USDA Economic Research Service: Local Food Systems
- Oxfam America: Fair Food Miles