Couple shopping at a grocery store

Is My Grocery List Sustainable?: Fruits and Nuts

Since most produce is available in grocery stores year-round, it’s hard to know if what you’re buying is in season in your region. Furthermore, just because something is locally in season doesn’t mean that it is sustainable in your region.

What do I mean by sustainable in your region? According to IFAS researchers Drs. Peter Andersen, Jeffery Williamson, and Mercy Olmstead (2012), whether a crop is sustainable in a particular region depends on the resources—such as labor, chemicals, and irrigation—that go into growing the crop, and the quality, yield, and profitability of the crop once it’s harvested. The sustainability of a crop also depends on how growing a crop in a particular area will affect the environment.

What does this mean for you? When it comes to fruits and nuts grown in North and North-Central Florida, some can be grown more sustainably than others. The table below shows ratings for locally-grown fruits or nuts based on how sustainable they are.

Fruit or Nut Sustainability Rating*
Apple 3
Blackberry 6
Blueberry (Highbush) 5
Blueberry (Rabbiteye) 9
Grape (Bunch) 2
Grape (Muscadine) 8
Chestnut 7
Fig 7
Kumquat 8
Mayhaw 7
Olives 8
Oriental persimmon 5
Peach/Nectarine 4
Pear 5
Pecan 5
Plum 4
Pomegranate 8
Satsuma 8

*Adapted from Andersen, Williamson, and Olmstead (2012); (1 = least sustainable; 10 = most sustainable)

Further Reading

IFAS Extension Publication, Sustainability Assessment of Fruit and Nut Crops in North Florida and North Central Florida, by Peter Andersen, Jeffery Williamson, and Mercy Olmstead

From the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS): “Crops in Season”

From the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE): “What is Sustainable Agriculture?”

From the US Department of Agriculture (USDA): “Sustainable Agriculture: Definitions and Terms”

References

Andersen, P. C., J. G. Williamson, and M. A. Olmstead. 2012. Sustainability Assessment of Fruit and Nut Crops in North Florida and North Central Florida. HS765. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Accessed November 3, 2015. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg367