When the weather gets colder and supermarket shelves are still stacked with berries, peppers and cucumbers, it’s easy to forget that these products aren’t grown in the UK.
The reality is that these products are often imported from Southern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. In fact, we imported £11 billion of fruit and vegetables in 2017. To give an idea of scale, that could buy you 61 billion bananas or 5.5 billion punnets of strawberries.
What’s the problem?
Whilst the UK has great conditions for growing produce, the overall area of apple orchards, for example, has declined by 63% since 1950. This is a result of neglect, intensification of agriculture and pressure from land development. So instead of eating locally grown apples, we import them from South Africa which is 5608 miles away.
When a product travels, fuel and resources are consumed. The impact of our preference for imported fruit & veg over locally, sustainably grown produce extends beyond fuel consumption and emissions. Losing areas like orchards causes habitat loss for both plant and animal species ranging from bats to lichens and beetles. Diversity loss is one of the major issues our planet faces today. Buying local, organic vegetables can help to sustain local habitats and populations.
What can I do?
If you’re conscious of your product miles, check YouK to discover the products grown locally. You can also check our resource to learn which UK products are in season when. Once you become familiar with foods and their seasonality, it’s easier to plan meals! There’s a reason for British sprouts appearing in Christmas dinners, pumpkin soup being a warming autumn staple and locally grown strawberries tasting the best in summer! Best of all, seasonal produce is abundant so it’s always great value.
Changing your habits is difficult. It’s not always easy to find locally produced food on our supermarket shelves. But with the UK’s growing season just around the corner, we should begin to think more about what’s in season. By listing food products grown in the UK, YouK hope to make this easier for you!