I love eating fruit and vegetables when they’re in season, primarily because they are so much tastier and have more distinctive flavours, and they are invariably sweeter, juicier, crunchier, healthier and glowing with colour. It also means that you don’t get things like huge, bulbous, unnatural looking strawberries or small, nutrient deficient lettuces. I’m not saying I only ever eat vegetables and fruits when they’re in season in Britain, but I try to incorporate something seasonal into every meal. Seasonal food is so much healthier in itself and so much healthier for us and our bodies, and it introduces variety which is key in any diet.
The great thing is that seasonal food also encourages locally-grown produce, because if you want courgettes you can go to your local greengrocer or farmers market in summer and slip them off the shelf, or go to a strawberry farm and pick your own, or you can pick wild raspberries or blackberries in any hedge nearby where they may be sprouting. Even better, if you grow vegetables and fruit in your garden, they have to be seasonal – you can’t grow cucumbers, spinach or apples in December, because it’s winter and they don’t grow in the cold.
I really enjoy looking forward to things throughout the year, waiting for them to be in season again – especially all the amazing summer fruit and veg which bursts onto the scene from June onwards. Peaches, strawberries, apricots, lettuce, asparagus, runner beans, peas… they’re all so wonderful, and so much more so because of the wait, the anticipation. I’d soon get bored of nectarines or corn on the cob if I ate them all year round.
Local, seasonal food is almost always fresher and more nutrient and mineral-rich than the monoculture food stocked by supermarkets that’s always the same, all year round. I love the idea that buying local and eating seasonal means that food hasn’t travelled halfway round the world, and isn’t at least 5 days old. It’s natural, nourishing and must be more sustainable than French beans grown in Kenya or blueberries grown in Canada. My diet isn’t restricted to British-only foods grown in season as I said, but I always try to strike a balance, to eat local and seasonal whenever I can.
Eat Seasonably’s calendar wheel, showing what’s in season each month in Britain. The outer edge fruit and vegetables highlighted in light green are the month’s best.