With the days becoming longer and the weather getting warmer, now is the perfect time to start getting into the swing of eating seasonally. The concept is simple, eat with what is most plentiful and local to you! This may mean that we have to give a miss to strawberries in January but come May we will get to enjoy them at very best and sweetest. In a world where we seem to have access to almost anything we want at any time thanks to 24 hour supermarkets, we can sometimes forget where the food on our plates has come from, let alone what is currently in season. Whilst bananas may be in season in Ecuador, how many banana crops do you see when wondering around the UK. It is important to remember yes; something may be in season somewhere in the world, but is that local to you?
There are so many benefits to eating seasonally, but here are my top 5:
1. Firstly, you will be dramatically reducing you carbon footprint. When doing a weekly shop in the supermarket, it is likely that you will be picking up items from all over the wold. As a result, the food we find on our plates has most likely travelled thousands of miles. It has been expressed that eating both seasonally and locally could reduce our individual carbon footprint by as much as 10%, a small change that could have a large positive impact on our planet.
2. Someone has to swallow the cost of all that travel, or the costs in maintaining an ideal climate and that person is you, the consumer! By eating both seasonally and locally you will be missing out a huge costly step in the international food supply chain. Eating locally is therefore not only a kind gesture to the planet but also your wallet.
3. If you have ever been to a farmer's market to pick up some of your fresh fruit and veg, you've probably noticed how much sweeter, crisp and juicy everything tastes. When fresh produce is harvested abroad the travel time has to be taken into account and as a result may not be picked at its very ripest. The result means less spoiled fruit and vegetables but also less tasty. In comparison shopping for local produce may mean that its only frown a few miles away meaning crops can be harvested at their best.
4. You're unlikely to find an abundance of locally sourced seasonal fresh produce in your nearest supermarket. If you however head over to you local farm shop or farmers market, its likely that there will be an abundance of local produce. As a result, you will probably be helping out smaller local businesses and farmers.
5. Not being able to grab exactly what you planned, and instead going to shop and seeing whats available forces you to be more creative in the kitchen. You may also stumble across a few new fruits and vegetables you would have never tried otherwise. Instead of your usual broccoli crown, why not try purple sprouting broccoli, or may red, purple, yellow or even white carrots instead of the usual orange. Cooking is all about experimentation and finding fun and enjoyment in what we fuel our bodies with, so maybe next time you go shopping set yourself the challenge of trying at least one new vegetable.
Whilst the convenience of just popping to the supermarket may sound easier than the idea of going on the hunt for local seasonal produce, there are ways to incorporate this more sustainable method into your lifestyle and easier than you think.
Businesses all over the UK do home delivery boxes of fresh produce examples in London include ODDBOX and Detox Kitchen. ODDBOX- not only make it easier to shop seasonally but also work towards reducing food waster. By celebrating all things wonky, ODDBOX help to rescue surplus produce through supplying thousands of homes with home delivery boxes.
Or if you dont fancy a home delivery or can't get one in your area, why not make a trip to your local farmers market a weekend activity. A stroll over in the morning could be the perfect start to your weekend and why not make a morning out of it and stop for brunch on your way home. If not, you could always whip up your own boujie brunch at home with all your new produce.
With May just around the corner, its worth taking not of what to expect in the coming months. Expect toe see the likes of Asparagus, Aubergine, Cherries, Courgettes, Cucumbers, New Potatoes, Peppers, Peas, Rhubarb, Rocket, Tomatoes and Watercress to name a few.
So, in summary yes you may have slightly less choice, but your eyes will be opened to an array of new tasty and more sustainable fresh produce.
By Contributor Jess Jouning