The temperature has taken a sharp downturn over the last week and it really feels as though winter has arrived. The Christmas tree is up, there is Christmas madness at the kid's school with seemingly endless performances and things to remember and the rounds of festive parties and get togethers. I took part in a local ten mile race at the weekend, The Mince Pie 10 in the craziest weather conditions I've ever run in! The vegan mince pie at the finish was very welcome.
With this changing of the season, I wanted to share with you guys some of my thoughts on trying to eat in tune with the time of year. With the abundance of international fruit and veg available in the supermarkets these days it can be very easy to forget what produce is actually British, local and in season. It is so easy to fall into a rut with our shopping and get used to buying the same things each week, often without a second thought to where our food has come from.
Choosing produce that is in season and grown in your own country (even locally if you can) has many benefits. .
Firstly you will be eating food which tastes at its very best. Fruit and veg that have been picked at the peak of their ripeness will always win in the flavour stakes. Think freshly picked strawberries from the local PYO or your back garden compared to imported strawberries from the supermarket in the winter... Nature has a way of knowing when things are at their finest and we should trust that and use it to our advantage.
Changing your meal planning with the seasons can mean that you can take advantage of your local farmers markets, independent grocers and local veg box schemes. This generally means good organic, delicious produce at a fair price whilst supporting the local economy. It's a win win situation.
3. Lower Price.
Eating this way will be very cost effective. There are many reasons why local seasonal food will cost you less. Ultimately if food is cheaper to grow then those savings will be passed on to you as the customer. When a fruit or vegetable is in season shops and markets will have an abundance and prices will drop.
Buying locally will also mean that the final price is not also absorbing the travel and storage costs involved in importing food or extended storage of out of season produce.
4. Reduction in food miles.
By reducing the amount of distance your food has travelled you are helping to reduce the amount of storage and transportation and its associated CO2 emissions.
5. Health benefits.
In terms of nutritional value, fruit and veg are at their peak when picked at their freshest and ripeness. With the exception of freezing at the time of picking, extended storage can lead to reduced nutritional benefits. Also buying local food often means less need for chemical additions and a chance to buy organic at the best possible price,
Our bodies also tend to crave the types of foods that are abundant and listening to our bodies is a wonderful thing. There's a reason we feel the need to eat warming root veg stews in the winter and crisp salads in the summer.
How to achieve this goal...
The UK is a relatively small country and there are obviously limits to what we can produce. For most people there will always be things we need to buy from international sources but being mindful of where or food comes from and making small changes can be a huge step. Teaching our children about the source of their food is also super important. This can be as simple as looking at the country of origin next time you're in the supermarket.
If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to grow your own produce, you will be steps ahead in this process. If not, maybe consider signing up to a local veg box scheme or finding out where your local farmers market is and planning a weekly visit. See my post on Making the Most of your Veg Box for some extra ideas and tips.
Taking the time to meal plan each week, can also make this much easier. Hit the cook books and learn a few new ways to cook your veg and take advantage of the abundance of fresh produce.
Mostly, learn to be creative with the freshest food you can and have some fun in the kitchen xx