Switzerland: lower emissions imported tomatoes between November and June

Buying vegetables regionally has become a trend in Switzerland. One of the reasons for this is, thanks to shorter transport distances, less CO2 is emitted. That's why many people think domestic vegetables are less damaging to the climate than imported products from Southern Europe, Swiss website 20min.ch reports.

This is, however, a misconception, at least where tomatoes from greenhouse cultivation are concerned, as shown by an ecobalance study by scientists at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). They compared CO2 emissions for the production of greenhouse vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplants and bell peppers, in various European countries - for each individual month of the year.

The result: for most of the year - from November until June - Swiss tomatoes are more harmful to the climate than tomatoes from Italy or Spain. Because unlike the south, greenhouses in Switzerland have to be heated from autumn until spring. "That causes a lot more CO2 emissions than transport", says Matthias Stucki, research author and environmental scientist at the ZHAW.

So environmentally conscious Swiss would have to buy domestic tomatoes only in the months of July until October, according to Stucki. Because these ripened during the summer, in virtually unheated greenhouses, so they are better for the climate than imported produce. For bell peppers and eggplants, roughly the same applies. In winter, it would be best to eat typical winter vegetables such as carrots and leeks, because these aren't grown in greenhouses.

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