Seasonal food of the month – what to cook this March to reduce carbon emissions

What about you? Are you vegan? Vegetarian? Pescatarian? Do you only consume organic products? Or do you solely shop regional food? These are only a few of the different culinary trends that have emerged in the past few years. Many of these diets go beyond wanting to have a healthier body. Especially in today’s time, which activists named the Climate Crisis, many people voluntarily restrict their nutrition in order to reduce their carbon footprint – out of the belief that they have found the best way to save the environment. 

One approach to do this, which seems rather intuitive, is to shop local food from crops in your region. This diet mainly aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the CO2 produced by trucks, ships and airplanes transporting food. Taking into consideration that 11% of the carbon emissions involved in the food production can be associated with the transportation itself, this seems like an effective solution.

However, like in almost every case it is not that simple. After all, we must consider that we still live in the Netherlands with very limited hours of sunshine and rather chilly temperatures. Therefore, buying exotic fruits and vegetables which were now produced in the Netherlands can actually be bad for your carbon footprint. In order to grow these foreign crops it will need glasshouses or plastic poly tunnels – both of which require technologies producing vast amounts of CO2. 

In order to avoid this, you could try to consume not just regional but also seasonal products.  That means of course those vegetables which can survive the frosty temperatures of Dutch spring on a field. So, what could be on your plate this month?

March is not just the month that gives us hope that the weather will finally become milder and that the sun will return as spring slowly arrives, but also the season for these lovely vegetables: artichokes, green asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, collard greens, garlic, green peas, kale, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, spinach and beetroot. 

My favorite spring veggie is finally making a comeback!

These veggies don’t make you particularly excited? Are you lacking ideas of what to make out of this variety of greens? Here are some suggestion of what you could cook with the fresh vegetables of the season:

Vegan green pea pesto: a healthy twist on an all-time favorite

For most students no week passes without eating pasta at least once. Especially, pasta with pesto remains one of the easiest, cheapest and fastest go-to dinners after an exhausting day at uni. But even the biggest pesto fan (I’m definitely one of them) can get bored of this basic meal after a while. Not anymore. If you follow this super simple recipe, you can spoil yourself with delicious self-made and vegan green pea pesto. A wonderful twist on this classic!

Put your pesto in a jar to save it for the next day …

Seasonal cabbage-carrot stir fry – beyond rabbit food

To be honest, a dish consisting of cabbage and carrots did not exactly sound mouthwatering to me either – at first. However, with the right combination of spices this Gujatari-style stir-fry recipe made me crave these healthy March veggies with some hot rotis. Still sounds like rabbit food to you? Add the vegan soy minced meat from Albert Heijn (1.59 €) and some soy sauce and honey to your pan and enjoy a heartier meal.

My beetroot-lentil-salad with goat cheese recipe

This is actually one of my all-time favorite recipes which is also perfect to pack it in a lunch box and take it to uni. You will only need these ingredients (for 2 people): 

  • 1-2 beetroots
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 1 tbsp vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp aceto balsamico 
  • Goat cheese (optional)
Sexy beets ready to be peeled and chopped …

First you need to peel and cut the beetroot(s) in small cubes (1 cm). Put them into boiling water and cover the pot with a lid.

Now, you can also start cooking the red lentils. You will need to cover them with twice as much water as there are lentils. Add the spices, vegetable stock and maybe some extra salt to the pot and let the lentils boil. 

When the beetroot and the lentils are soft (after 10-15 minutes), you can put them both in your salad bowl. Now mix them with some olive oil and aceto balsamico. Maybe you want to add some more salt and pepper. 

After letting your salad cool down a little, you can add some goat cheese if you want. However, this meal also tastes delicious without this extra-topping. If you are vegan, feel free to try this recipe without the cheese. 

Those were just some of my ideas of what you can do with the variety of fresh greens we can (and should) enjoy already in March. All of these recipes are super simple, delicious, healthy and fit into any student’s budget. What are you going to try first? Do you have any other suggestions of what to make out of the other March veggies? 

If so, we are always happy to receive feedback and your tips at our e-mail address:

An article by Lara Schade (Commissioner of Goodwill)

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