Eat your greens at Christmas

Blog by
21 December 2009

Along with asking Copenhagen delegates to 'cheer up', London mayor Boris Johnson told municipal leaders meeting there that he ate fish at COP15 'to reduce my carbon footprint'.

He didn’t mention any side dishes involving vegetables, but it is clear he should have called on the Danes to eat more fresh produce. They have one of the lowest per capita consumption rates of fresh fruit and vegetables in Europe (see USDA report [PDF]).

That's not just bad for Danish health. It affects parts of the developing world too — specifically, the growers who load the plates of the North with their five-a-day feast.

Will your last-minute shopping for holiday feasts bring peace, joy and livelihood security to the world's poorest? Your Christmas dinner plate could be piled high with support for the poor — green beans imported from East Africa, sweetcorn from North Africa and bananas from the Caribbean. It’s a pretty painless (and tasty) way of showing solidarity.

If you're worried about food miles and emissions, remember that winter 'mileage' for the first two crops can be high in Europe, as it involves heated greenhouses. And bananas are strictly Southern.

The fresh produce trade linking North and South promises benefits, but often doesn’t achieve them. We explore these crucial issues of sustainable development and global social justice in IIED's new publication, Fair Miles: Recharting the food miles map, produced with Oxfam GB.

What we've found is that a really balanced diet includes local produce and development-friendly imported produce.

Because this trade can support better lives and livelihoods in the developing world, you’re helping to alleviate poverty by eating your greens.

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