Are Imported Fruits and Vegetables unhealthy?
You should eat lots of fruit and vegetables, preferably regional and seasonal. Fruit or vegetables fresh from the market or your own garden contains nutrients. Eaten raw, it provides most of the nutrients.
But what to do in winter? Strawberries in winter? It just doesn’t exist. And when you know the disadvantages of imported fruit and vegetables, you will lose your appetite for them.
The fruits and vegetables you get in the supermarket are predominantly multicultural: bananas from Costa Rica, sweet potatoes from the South, avocados from Mexico, and tomatoes from Spain! We know the recommendation to eat regional products that are in season. It means there are no asparagus or strawberries in winter. But sometimes, it’s tough to resist the beautiful fruits and vegetables coming from warmer regions in the supermarket. However, knowing more about the reasons why imported goods are not only bad for the environment but also for your health may make it easier for you.
Fewer vitamins and nutrients
Imported goods or fruit grown in greenhouses have a higher pollutant content and a lower vitamin content. There are two reasons for this: The fruits are usually harvested unripe; otherwise, they would not survive the transport, so the fruits cannot reach their full nutrient content. However, the contained vitamins will suffer from the sometimes week-long transport, so it is no wonder that the nutrient content decreases. Studies have shown that canned and frozen goods contain more vitamins than fresh, imported fruit and vegetables because the fruit was allowed to ripen and immediately preserved.
Higher nitrate levels
High use of fertilizer leads to high nitrate content in food. When cooking, nitrate turns into nitrite, which is terrible for our health. If vegetables grow in the greenhouse in winter, it needs more fertilizer, which leads to increased nitrate formation. Also, the plants can then break down this nitrate less than in summer because the light conditions are poorer. Beetroot and spinach have exceptionally high nitrate levels.
More pollutants and pesticides
If you want fresh strawberries in winter, you can only buy fruit that grew in a greenhouse. That does not seem bad and it doesn’t mean that the greenhouse is at the other end of the world. Unfortunately, fungi and other pests can multiply more due to the non-seasonal growing in the greenhouse and the prevailing humid climate there. For this reason, the use of pesticides is more than if the fruit were to thrive outdoors in the summer.
Imported fruits and vegetables that have a long journey ahead of them are also treated with more pesticides so that the goods survive the long trip undamaged, and customers can enjoy crisp, fresh-looking New Zealand apples.
Higher energy requirement during cultivation
Greenhouse cultivation also requires more energy. After all, there is a need for summer temperatures for the strawberries in winter. The increased use of pesticides is also unfavorable for the environment; residues accumulate in the soil and the water.
Also, if you want strawberries in winter, you have to pay more than in summer. The manufacturers are more concerned with hefty profits than cultivation and transport conditions!
As a consumer, you usually have no idea under which conditions the fruit and vegetables were produced. How much does a worker on a banana plantation in Costa Rica earn? How many hours a day does he work? Have small farmers support, or do large corporations take on the business? Are the environment and biodiversity in the growing countries suffering because of profitable monocultures? You usually have no idea of all these aspects when you stand in front of the beautiful-looking fruits and vegetables in the supermarket.
Nevertheless, if you finally buy some of the wonderful-looking red strawberries or pineapple in January, they may not taste as good as they look. But because the fruit has to be harvested unripe, it can never develop an intense taste like regional and seasonal fruit and vegetables harvested at the right time, which you can find on the shelves the next day. It’s also the long transport routes that are bad for the environment and the climate
Long transport routes
Imported fruit and vegetables often take a surprisingly long time to travel: a kiwi from New Zealand is on the road for almost five weeks. A pineapple takes just under a month to end up in the local supermarket. This is why the fruits are harvested unripe and contain fewer vitamins. The ecological balance of imported goods is often devastating. An apple imported from New Zealand does not necessarily have a worse life cycle assessment than a regional apple stored in cold storage for five months. However, tropical fruits imported by plane are always devastating for the environment. They may contain more vitamins than those transported by ship, but it may be better to do without them!
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