It's easy to talk about eating foods grown and raised locally, yadda yadda yadda, but sometimes sourcing fresh, local produce is not so easy to actually do, especially in the dead of winter. Air-freighted asparagus and blackberries are pretty appealing to most palates year 'round. But how far your food travels has a direct impact, or so most believe, on the state of the planet, so it's a question worth giving some thought to.
The NRDC, Natural Resources Defense Council, has an online tool that can help you minimize the amount of well-traveled foods you consume. You can plug in the time of year down to early and late part of each month, plus the state in question. Once the tool churns out foods harvested or cellared in your state this time of year, it will also offer foods from neighboring states.
For example, it turns out that my craving for celery can be satisfied with Pennsylvania grown stalks, so when I made a salad last weekend with celery in it, I hunted down some PA-grown stuff at the farmers' market instead of just settling for something with a passport from Whole Foods.
They also have a list of "Frequent Fliers," the foods that are commonly air-lifted from their country of origin, racking up global warming emissions. Peruvian Asparagus, Tomatoes from the Netherlands and Chilean fruit like blackberries, cherries and peaches are all on the list. If they're not in season, best to choose something else and the online search tool is a great way to find alternatives.
Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. The third, written with co-author Faith Durand, is The Kitchn Cookbook. It will be published in Fall 2014 by Clarkson Potter.
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