Anyone who has read my blog will know I’m a proponent of seasonal eating. There are lots of reasons why: it’s generally cheaper, as ‘in season’ UK produce is more abundant and forces down the market price; it’s certainly fresher than imported counterparts shipped half-way across the world, and is therefore likely to taste better and have a higher nutrient content; it’s also more exciting.
If we eat what is on offer in the supermarkets year round, we tend to eat the same few fruit and vegetables, and are less likely to challenge our knowledge and taste buds. A recent surveys confirms that 70% of the population are still eating way less than the recommended 5 (or more) fruit and veg a day anyway. With plastic wrapped, less than thrilling produce on offer, I don’t think it’s surprising. A Spanish or Italian market crammed with spanking fresh produced of varying shapes and hues is way more appealing than rows of plastic-wrapped year-round spinach, strawberries, cabbage, carrots, onions, and the now ubiquitous, broccoli.
If you want to support local farming and try different vegetable offerings you could try a local vegetable box scheme. These are truly local, supply in-season produce and work out very reasonably priced compared with supermarkets – many are cheaper. You are also likely to find unfamiliar items in your box, which might not even be available in store. Would anyone one have tried the alien looking kohlrabi or knobbly celeriac, were it not for a vegetable box scheme? I doubt it. These are tasty relatives of the cabbage, and can be used in a plethora of interesting – and delicious – ways. You are likely to see unusual beans, greens, and sometimes boxes even have a helping of seasonal berries or hedgerow offerings. Many box schemes provide suggestions on how to use unusual vegetables, so you’ll be increasing your culinary skills as well as your knowledge – and adding new interest to your weekly meals.
September sees the arrival of figs, damsons, chicory, squash (pumpkins), runner beans, cobnuts, sloes, game and shellfish as well as the more common pears, apples, plums and blackberries. A number of these things you will be hard pushed to find in your supermarket, and certainly in any variety or quantity.
If you’re not sure what’s in season when, there are various resources which will give you information on what’s available from the UK and when to look out for it. The ‘Eat Seasonally’ website has a downloadable calendar, or a poster version you can buy. They also provide hints and tips, and recipes to inspire you.
I would urge you to give seasonal eating a try. Once you’re tried a ripe pear, a crisp apple, or a bitter chicory, bursting with freshness and flavour, you will not want to go back to limp baby spinach and tasteless orange tomatoes.
To get you started I’ve posted a recipe in the recipe section for a chicory dish. Chicory is available now, although you don’t often see it in supermarkets. Give it a go and maybe tempt yourself back to eating seasonally.
Find our more about what’s in season and when here:
Find an organic box scheme here:
Discover Local Producers here: