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“There isn't one answer to everything, or even one question. Things are very complex and there are always lots of layers to every question or challenge. One thing we do know, however, is that we must consume less, and this goes for pretty much everything.”

Therese Elgquist, the brilliant mind behind Plant Based by Thess, is a returning favorite on Make it last, and we always keep a watchful eye on everything she does (like lots of yummy veggie dishes and must-have cookbooks). She also just released her first podcast, Hållklarhetspodden, together with Food Pharmacy on how to live a more sustainable life, and we obviously had to ask her all about it.
Standing on the doorstep to summer, we also thought it a perfect time to use her expertise to explain the benefits of local and in-season veggies (there are several!), and list the ones we should plate, freeze or store in the months to come. There are real life hacks to take away from this read.

Congratulations on your new podcast! Tell us how you came up with the idea and made it a reality.

Thank you! I’ve spent so many days on Google trying to find out about ingredients and content in everything from food to clothing and beauty products; to find climate smart ways to travel; decrease my consumption when it comes to pretty much everything; support small and local companies; stay á jour on all things sustainable, and so on… Until I realized that everyone can’t be an expert on everything. That was when the idea for the podcast came up.

Fast forward to the next day when I called my friends and colleagues at Food Pharmacy and told them about my idea – to invite experts, authors and scientists to talk about all these different areas I had so many questions about – asking if they wanted to help me make it a reality by producing it with me, and they said oh yes!

So, Hållklarhetspodden is a podcast about sustainability, and over 10 episodes I interview awesome people to find out how we can be a bit more sustainable in our everyday lives; and thrive at the same time!

“The best thing we as consumers can do is to show that we are conscious and that we care by asking the ‘uncomfortable questions’. That’s how we create change!”

What are some of the most interesting/shocking/important things you’ve learned from the people you’ve interviewed?

That there isn’t one answer to everything, or even one question. Things are very complex and there are always lots of layers to every question or challenge. One thing we do know, however, is that we must consume less, and this goes for pretty much everything.

That’s a good way to start: to look at your patterns and think about what you really need, and what things in your life you’re only doing out of habit but could just as well do without. The best thing we as consumers can do is to show that we are conscious and that we care by asking companies, sellers, grocery store managers etc. the “uncomfortable questions”. That’s how we create change!

Has this new knowledge made you change how you live or look upon life?

I’d say I lived a pretty conscious life before I started the podcast, so I haven’t made any big changes really. Perhaps I’ve become a bit “nicer” to myself, still trying to live as sustainable as possible every day, but not thinking, putting an enormous amount of pressure on myself, that I have to know the answers to all the big questions. I’ll do my very best, take responsibility, and that’s all I can do for now. One thing that’ll definitely keep doing is to ask questions.

We share your love for plant-based food and wonder: why is it important to eat veggies that are in-season, and is “locally made” always better?

In-season veggies that come from the area where you live don’t have to be transported from far away places – so that’s one aspect. Veggies that have been transported a long way are often picked before they’re even ripe, which affects the taste in a negative way.

Also, as soon as you pick a veggie you’ll see a degradation of quality when it comes to nutrition – this is why freezing things is great as you put this degradation “on hold” – so we want to eat our veggies “asap” after they’ve been picked, which is why it’s great if they come from nearby.

Furthermore, in-season veggies are often more affordable, and, they taste better as they’ve had the chance to grow the way nature intended.

Good to mention is also that veggies that can be stored a long time, like root veggies, onion, garlic and some brassicas, can still be a good choice all year around just because they can actually be stored and still be ok – that must mean something!

What’s “best” is not always an easy question… It depends on if you mean best for the consumer, for the farmer, or for the environment. In the best of worlds you would get all three, but this is sometimes hard to achieve. I highly recommend everyone to listen to episode two of Hållklarhetspodden with Elin Röös, where we talk about this a lot.

What produce are in season right now, and what should we eat in the months to come?

Knowing what’s in season is very hard today when we import so much from far away places. Many of the things we find in our grocery stores are never in season up here in the North, as we can’t grow then. That doesn’t mean that we should never eat exotic fruits, veggies and other plants, but maybe we have to see it as “luxurious produce”, and let it be something we consume every now and then instead of every day.

Soon the Swedish primeurs are here: asparagus, onions, carrots, parsnip, beets, new potatoes etc.; and other lovely things like ramson and nettles; and early berries such as strawberries and rhubarbs. As we head towards summer we can also indulge in garden beans, squash, fresh cabbage, more wild berries and cherries.

Some of the mentioned veggies, like different roots, can be stored for a long time and are available all year round, but when they are picked in the beginning of the season we call them primeurs, which you can often buy with stems and tops still on and use as well. These fresh veggies also taste a bit different.

“Freezing things is a great way to keep both the nutrition and make the season last longer.”

What are your best trips for how to make fresh produce last?

Freezing things is a great way to keep both the nutrition and make the season last longer. Some produce might not have the same texture after they’ve been frozen, but you can easily find other ways of using them.

For example: strawberries that have been frozen might not be the perfect topping on a birthday cake, but they go perfectly well in crumble pies, strawberry dressings and sauces, and berry compotes. Same thing with say spinach: you wouldn’t wanna use frozen thawed spinach in a salad, but it’s the perfect component in smoothies, lentil stews, veggie patties and soups.

I rarely dry things, except for mushrooms those years when I’ve found more than I can eat. Throughout the year I also make my own sauerkraut, but other than that I mostly use veggies that are in season.

Finally: Why should everyone listen to your pod?

Because the people I’ve had the chance to meet are awesome; so filled with knowledge and passion for their subjects. And I hope the listeners get lots of smart tips and a new understanding for the challenges we are facing and what we can do about them. It can be fun to live a more conscious and sustainable life, and together we can create change!

 

Listen to Hållklarhetspodden here (btw, it’s in Swedish).

Visit Plantbasedbythess here and follow her on Instagram for daily updates.


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