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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Why "Pretty" Doesn't Equal "Tasty" When it Comes to Produce

Jun 03, 2015 03:53PM ● By Kenny Baldo

The produce in your local grocery store may look pretty on the outside, but inside it is likely to be tired and worn out, having traveled long and far to get here. It is estimated that the average American meal travels about 1,500 miles from farm to plate and can take up to 17 days to do so. So while it may be tempting to buy that tomato in the dead of winter, there are many reasons to wait until you can get it locally, in-season, and preferably right from your own back yard!

•           Produce brought in from across the country or other parts of the world has already spent up to 3 days being processed, 4 to 7 days in transport, and up to 7 days in the store. It will never taste as fresh as something harvested in-season at peak.

•           Produce that will be transported long distances is often picked while still unripe and then gassed to ripen it after transport, or it is highly processed with preservatives to keep it stable for transport and sale. No wonder those tomatoes in the cellophane wrap taste like cardboard!

•           There is also a higher chance for contamination when produce passes through so many hands from processing through travel and retail display.

•           Some fruits and vegetables also lose nutrition during their voyage. Broccoli, mushrooms, peas, and asparagus have high respiration rates (respiration is the process of releasing energy stored in organic molecules to do metabolic work), which causes produce to lose nutrition quickly. The longer produce has to breathe before it is consumed, the less likely it is to retain nutrients.

•           Finally, long-distance travel takes a toll on the environment, using large quantities of fossil fuels and generating carbon dioxide emissions. Eating locally is an easy way to reduce our carbon footprint.

So now that summer is coming into full bloom, enjoy the local bounty, and perhaps even think ahead to plan for the colder months by learning to freeze and preserve your own produce. It will always be the tastiest, most nutritious, and eco-friendly option!

Kenny Baldo is co-founder of Yard2Kitchen, which designs, builds, and maintains organic garden beds in North Central NJ. Contact Kenny at 732-410-6173 for more information or a consultation. Yard2Kitchen.com

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