With many fruits and vegetables flown in from distant destinations and available all-year round, it is often confusing to know what is in season. And even when produce are in season in the UK, it is often imported from abroad anyway.
Allowed to fully ripen before being harvested, seasonal food often has more taste and nutrients than produce grown out of season. Eating more local and seasonal food does not only boost your health, but also benefits the environment, local economy and community.
While it is easy enough to check the country of origin and favour British produce when buying from supermarkets, true locavores will aim to source fruits and vegetables even closer to home.
Grown your own
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is very rewarding but unless you have a very large garden, it is unlikely you will produce enough to feed a whole family from it. Getting an allotment will help scale things up and The National Allotment Society has some helpful tips on how to get started. You may need to be patient though, as waiting lists for allotment spaces can be very long.
By planning your allotment carefully, you should be able to get a regular supply of fresh fruit and vegetables grown, if you choose to go organic, without pesticides. Growing your own, will not only reduce your carbon footprint but will also help preserve biodiversity in your area as pollinators and insects will enjoy a wider variety of plants.
Gardening is great exercise and an allotment will certainly keep you fit. Spending more time outside, interacting with like-minded people and being active has also been proved to have great benefits to mental wellbeing. Happy mind and a healthy body… what’s not to like?!
Kids always enjoy a spot of gardening so there is much to be said about getting the whole family involved. Understanding where their food come from, will certainly encourage children to grow up to have a balanced and healthy diet.
Buy from local farmers market
To ensure you buy quality home-grown and local products you can also visit your local farmers market.
London has its own dedicated site while Visit England lists local food markets around the country. It is a good idea to bookmark these websites so you can visit local markets when on holiday. Wherever you are, it’s a fantastic opportunity to discover local specialties, farmers and producers and keep well away from mass-produced foods.
Remember that you can also help support local producer communities by buying from allotment associations which often have a stall at local farmers’ markets.
Local food markets are a thriving tradition around the world, so even if you are abroad there is always an opportunity to visit one. Visiting my family in the south of France, I never miss a chance to stock up on local produce as well as garlic braids, honey and sundried tomatoes.
Buy from a CSA
If you would like to enjoy the convenience of local and seasonal food while supporting your local area even further, you can also source produce from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms. CSAs bring farmers and customers together to create a more open and transparent food system. With the lowest food miles around, CSAs are the ultimate local and seasonal food solution.
I pick up our weekly vegetable and fruit bags from our local CSA, Sutton Community Farm, located five minutes away from our house. While the farm is not certified organic, the crops are grown without pesticides. Vegetables and fruits come in all shapes and forms, helping to minimise food waste.
From managing the land, growing and harvesting crops to selling produce, CSA farms are often a hive of activity requiring a lot of help. You might even be able to join as a volunteer or in some instances as a shareholder.
There are quite a few CSAs spread around the UK. Click here to find one near you.
Once you are all set with your seasonal supply, don’t forget to browse my seasonal recipe selection. Happy cooking!