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Regional and seasonal food

Content

Regional and seasonal food is fresher, tastes better and is also much more environmentally friendly ♻️ than food from overseas. According to the Federal Center for Nutrition, almost two-thirds of Germans prefer food from their region. So it’s high time to take a closer look at the terms regional and seasonal.

What does regional mean?

Regional foods are raw materials or foods originating from the specified region that are also processed, packaged and distributed there. Their short transport distances usually mean lower CO2 emissions.

What does seasonal mean?

As the name suggests, the term seasonal contains the word season. The season refers to the natural, seasonal conditions in agriculture. This includes, among other things, the climate and the length of the day. These conditions dictate when which plants can grow. When fruits and vegetables can be grown and harvested due to these prevailing site conditions, it is generally referred to as seasonal.

The solution: a sustainable diet

A sustainable diet is a diet that has a low impact on the environment, ecosystems and climate, respects biodiversity, contributes to improving the global food situation, is socially acceptable and provides a healthy and natural livelihood for current and future generations.

That’s quite a lot of aspects, but in view of the far-reaching and multidimensional effects of our nutrition, a comprehensive basis is needed to address these problems with appropriate solutions. In this context, politics and business as well as society and consumers are called upon. Even if it does not seem so at first, our individual purchasing behavior has an influence on the situation, after all the manufacturers produce those products which are in particular demand. Demand determines supply.

Where can you find regional products?

If you buy regionally, you automatically buy seasonally. However, the term “regional food” is not legally protected. This makes it all the more complicated for consumers to distinguish regional from seemingly regional products. 

For example, vague terms such as “from the region,” “from here,” or “home” without precise location or origin information are not a clear indication of regional products. Often, at most one production step in these products is taken from factories in the respective region.

Regional products tend to be found at weekly markets and organic food stores. But discounters are also increasingly offering regional products, recognizable by a blue “regional window” on the packaging, with which manufacturers can voluntarily identify their regional products.

Why does regional and seasonal food make sense?

Sustainability

To illustrate the sustainability of regional food, let’s look at strawberries as an example.

Regional strawberries have an Ecological Footprint (=CO2 equivalents in kilograms per kilogram of food) of 0.3. For comparison: If we buy imported strawberries (e.g. from Spain), the Ecological Footprint is 3.4, i.e. more than 10 times higher. For air transport, the Ecological Footprint is even higher.

Seasonal food grows without human interference, it does not need pesticides or genetic modifications that harm the environment.  By the way: Vegetarian and vegan food can avoid about 50% of the emissions!

Health

Imported fruits and vegetables are often harvested unripe, because they have to survive days or even weeks of transport undamaged and are supposed to “ripen” to arrive ripe in the supermarkets. From the moment a fruit is harvested, the production of further vitamins and other important ingredients is usually stopped. If the fruit is harvested before it is fully ripe, many of the ingredients it contains are lost. When food is harvested in season, it is ripe and fully developed. The plant has then received more sun and that means it also contains more nutrients and vitamins.

Which products are regional and seasonal?

On the Internet you can find many seasonal calendars for fruits and vegetables in Germany. Especially in summer there is a lot of regional food in Germany. But also in winter you can fall back on many regional products, like turnips as well as potatoes and carrots. 

Sources:

1. Statista
2. mein-klimaschutz
3. global2000

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