Fruits, berries and vegetables have very different environmental and climate impacts depending on how and where they are grown. Therefore, it matters a lot what you choose. A good basic rule for conscious consumption is to choose seasonally adapted, locally grown and preferably organic. Bananas, citrus fruits and grapes are the fruits that are sprayed the most – therefore it is especially important to choose organic from those fruits. Bananas are also a fruit that is often produced under very poor working conditions, so it is a good idea to choose Fairtrade or similar for those.
- In fruit and vegetable cultivation, chemical pesticides are used to prevent infestation by pests. These agents can harm both animals and humans and the surrounding environment. Residues of pesticides can also remain in the fruits we buy, which of course is not good for health and can lead to poisoning.
- The worst are sprayed fruits and vegetables that we eat with the skin on, such as strawberries, apples, tomatoes, nectarines and grapes.
- Grapes are one of the most sprayed crops that also carry the highest levels of pesticide residues.
- Buy primarily organic products to avoid pesticide residues and to protect the environment and people.
Different types of vegetables give rise to different climatic and environmental impacts depending on how and where they are grown, how they are transported and how they are stored in stores and at home. Vegetables can be divided into two groups that generally have different climate impacts. Delicate vegetables, so-called sallad vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce have a greater climate impact than coarse vegetables such as root vegetables, cabbage and onions. To eat climate-smart, you should adapt your consumption to the Swedish growing season and eat root vegetables (eg carrots, parsnips, celeriac, turnips and beets) and coarse vegetables (eg cabbage and onions) in autumn and winter and eat tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce during summer and autumn. A good basic rule when buying vegetables is to choose organic, seasonally adapted and, if possible, locally grown.
Tips for a conscious consumption of vegetables
- Choose seasonal and locally grown vegetables. A good seasonal guide can be found here (in Swedish).
- Choose organic vegetables that are unsprayed.
- Choose more coarse vegetables such as root vegetables, broccoli, cabbage and onions that affect the environment less than tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers. They can also be stored for a long time and there is access to locally grown all year round.
- Vegetables are sensitive foods. Store them properly and do not buy more than you use and you will reduce waste! Look for new ways to use drooping vegetables- try making a delicious wok!
- Imported tropical fruits such as banana, pineapple, mango and avocado are not only negative from a climate point of view due to the long transports, cultivation of these fruits also has negative social and environmental consequences.
- Banana and pineapple are two fruits that have received attention. Bananas and pineapples are mainly imported from South America where they are grown on large plantations. The plantation uses large amounts of toxic agricultural chemicals that poison the groundwater, deplete the soil and make the workers sick.
- Working conditions on the plantations and in the warehouses are tough with hard physical work and long working days, for a salary that is often not enough to support the family.
- Union work is opposed and many workers are illegal migrants who lack legal protection. Always buy organic and preferably also fair trade bananas.
- From a climate point of view, Swedish berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and lingonberries are preferable to imported ones because the transports will be shorter.
- Trendy “superberries” such as goji and acai come from China and Brazil (Amazonas), which means very long transports.
- Unfortunately, much misconduct in the Swedish berry industry has attracted media attention in recent years. It has been about poor people from Thailand, Bangladesh, Vietnam and China who come to Sweden to pick berries, but who are cheated on their wages and have to work and live in unworthy conditions.
Advice for a conscious consumption of fruits & berries
- Choose locally grown fruits and berries, when available. There are usually plenty of Swedish apples to buy, but if not, choose as locally grown as possible – Germany is much closer than Argentina.
- Choose organic fruits and berries, which are unsprayed.
- Fruits and berries are sensitive foods. Store them properly and do not buy more than you will eat and you will reduce waste! Read more about how to reduce food waste here.
- Fruits and berries have different environmental and climate impacts depending on where and how they are grown. Greenhouse gas emissions come mainly from transport, cold storage and manure use.
Page updated 2021.