By now, we’re all aware of the impact of food miles on the environment. After all, no matter how much we like to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, the resources used to get them to us can be damaging and full of pollution. Not to mention the fact that food that’s been picked early and transported won’t be as tasty as food that was grown nearby and picked at the peak of freshness! For many of us, locally grown produce is much easier to find in the summer. Whether you garden yourself or whether you visit summer farmer’s markets, you can get environmentally friendly, often organic and always tastier fruits and vegetables during the summer months. So how can you leverage those fresh fruits and produce in order to not have to buy heavily traveled produce in the winter? Here’s how.

Freeze, Freeze, Freeze

While your vegetables may lose some flavor after freezing, they’ll retain more flavor than off-peak, transported produce will ever have. Buy up on fresh, local produce that you love and then freeze it. Just be sure to ensure that your freezing container is properly sealed to make it through the winter. To make certain that you’re being ultra-eco friendly, use freezing containers that you can reuse again rather than individual wrappings.

Can and Preserve

While it won’t be as easy or as simple as freezing, if you’re somewhat gifted in the kitchen you can make preserves or can your produce. This is our favorite online resource for canning information, but there are many how-to guides out there.

Start a Bathroom Farm

Or any indoor farm! You’d be surprised how many fresh fruits and vegetables can be grown indoors over the winter. Bathroom Farmer has great tips on indoor farming.  Even if you’re just growing tomatoes in a pot, you can improve your health and the planet with indoor plants (as well as indoor air quality!). Now is a great time to start getting ready to try your hand at indoor food growing. You’ll be ahead of the game when December 2012 hits! (Joking, we joke.)

Eat Up and Enjoy

Mostly, however, you should eat up and enjoy this summer! Making wise choices about food and the environment may mean choosing to eat fewer fresh fruits and vegetables and more seasonally appropriate roots and squashes in the fall and winter months (depending on where you live). Adopt a seasonally appropriate diet this summer, and take that with you into the less abundant food months.

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Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: orchidgalore