Eating in season veg that’s grown locally is a really impactful way to lower your carbon footprint for two main reasons:
- 'In season' typically means that it is growing naturally, rather than in an energy-intensive, artificial environment
- 'Local' means it doesn’t have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to end up on your plate
Plus, food that’s in season and fresh tends to taste better. Win-win.
How do I know if it’s ‘local’ veg?
Finding out if food is local shouldn’t be difficult: most shops print the country of origin on the label. If a fresh item says it has come from somewhere far away —like Chile for example—it’s probably been flown over. All those air miles will give that item a high carbon footprint.
If the item’s label doesn’t stipulate where it originated, try asking someone who works in the store. They should be able to look it up on their system.
How do I know if a vegetable is in season?
This requires a little more digging on your part, as most shops don’t include this information on the label. A quick google will normally reveal whether you’re in luck, or whether you’ve got a few more months to wait.
Here’s a list of the veg that’s in season in April and May in the UK:
- New potatoes
- Pak choi
- Purple sprouting broccoli
- Spring greens
- Spring onion
- British asparagus
What’s the best way to ensure I eat mainly seasonal veg?
Eating only or mainly seasonal veg isn’t common these days. Thanks to modern supply chains, we’re all used to having whatever we want, when we want it.
If that sits a little uncomfortably for you, or if you’re looking for an area to make a big impact on your carbon footprint, we recommend meal planning. This affords you the opportunity to:
- Spot where food waste might occur and plan your meals so you reduce/eliminate it
- Research what foods are in-season
- Set goals, like ‘only spend £X on food this week’ or ‘include two vegetarian/vegan dinners this week’
Pawprint’s ‘A week of low carbon dinners in April’ meal plan:
Monday: Whole roasted cauliflower. Butter, paprika and garlic transform this crunchy vegetable into a mouthwatering treat. Pop it on a bed of lemon-y tahini, use some fresh bread to wipe up the sauce, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, low-carbon meal.
Tuesday: Chicken and red pepper curry, with a saag aloo side. Chicken is a low-carbon meat, though you can make it fully plant-based by swapping it out for chickpeas or Quorn chicken pieces. Or both.
Wednesday: Purple broccoli and pak choi stir fry. Swap normal broccoli for its purple sprouting cousin and this recipe is healthy, delicious and low-carbon. You could even add some sweet chilli-marinated chicken or tofu to bulk it up. And of course, egg noodles (or rice, if you want to keep it vegan).
Thursday: Chorizo and cabbage stew. Pork has double the carbon footprint of chicken, but less than half of beef, making it a good substitute if you’d normally opt for a stew made from the latter. If you’re veggie, try swapping the chorizo for halloumi. It’s a great alternative to salty pork.
Friday: It’s the end of the week, so whatever you’re making needs to be easy and it needs to be cheesy (or is that just us?). How about a lemon and spinach pasta bake?
Saturday & Sunday: Use up any leftover ingredients from the past week. Other than that, treat yourself to whatever you like. It’s the weekend!
Eating low carbon is only impactful if you stick at it, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. Five low-carbon meals a week is a great start!