Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Seasonal Foods

I blogged recently about it being apple season (you can read that post here). We're eating a lot of apple crumbles at the moment! This got me thinking about the seasonality of food. These days, if you buy food from a supermarket or a large grocer you are likely not to notice that there is such a thing as seasonal food (except for pumpkins at Hallowe'en and Brussels sprouts at Christmas). Fruit and vegetables are imported from across the globe so that we can eat what we want when we want. The planes and ships that transport the food produce a lot of greenhouse gases, which cause climate change. Produce that travels halfway across the world has lost quality and taste by the time it reaches our plates.

Also I think we've forgotten some of the enjoyment of food being seasonal. Strawberries are much more special if you can only eat them for a few weeks of the year and the local grown ones taste so much better.

When I lived in Malawi, the seasonality of food was much more obvious, largely because there were no large supermarkets. There were no pineapples for most of the year and then for two weeks (in November I seem to remember?) there seemed to be nothing but pineapples, which we bought and hoarded in our kitchen. A month later there were no more pineapples and we had to wait 11 months for the next one.

Seasonal food helps to reconnect us with, well, the seasons and the natural cycles that we are a part of, much though most of us try to deny it.

Eat the Seasons is an online resource about seasonal food in the UK. It acknowledges that certain foods are now part of our eating experience even though they don't grow in the UK. So it advises eating Spanish oranges in season, rather than those imported from further away but suggests that importing from overseas is unnecessary when the food is grown in the UK.


Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

I think food taste so much better when it is in season. And you are so right, it is more special too. :)
xx, shell

Kelly said...

Both of my grandmothers did a lot of canning so we could enjoy peaches, black eyed peas, and various other items grown on the farm through out the year. The canned items were never as good as they were when fresh which contributed to how much more everyone would like the fresh items. I am definitely a seasonal eater. I have coffee all year long but I only make it at home in the winter months and tend to have much more.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Seasonal eating, for sure! When I lived in Vancouver, BC, August was the perfect time for cherries--I would look forward to them year round.

Not to mention all the fall-inspired beers that are released...delicious.

Titus said...

Pear glut demolished, and now, like you, the apples! Yes, lots of crumble and charlotte, and I also use them in bread and butter pudding and curries and parsnip and apple soup. Tree still full though! Dog and robins eat the windfall...
I remember Spring lamb, though not quite the pig slaughtered for Christmas. It wasn't only fruit and veg in my mother and father's day that was seasonal.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Titus - as a veggie, I don't think about meat much, but you're right. I hadn't thought of apples in curries, now there's a thing.... I do love apple crumbles though

Hannah - oh indeed, i love seasonal beers...

Kelly - my partner's aunts all do a lot of jam making, I don't remember anyone in my family canning at all

Michelle - much more special!

Bill said...

winter solstice
the haiku poet eats
frozen strawberries

midsummer heat––
an apple tastes
like autumn

and so on. A provocative post.

Catherine said...

Here we have Californian peaches and nectarines in the middle of winter, but I don't buy them because they are too expensive. I don't eat strawberries in winter either. It's not hard to tell air freighted produce as air freight adds hugely to the price, whereas sea freight is much more economical (and more fuel efficient).
I'm not willing to give up oranges and bananas, which we wouldn't have at all if we ate locally, but they are imported by ship, not air.
We can get apples most of the year round, they are stored in cool stores, but they get a bit floury by spring time. I think there are a couple of months when only imported apples are available, again I don't buy those. So I am a semi-seasonal eater, I guess. We do use frozen peas and canned tomatoes all year round.

Anonymous said...

There a lots of fruits that I only want in season, vegetables too, for that matter. Greenhouse tomatoes just don't do it for me.

Anonymous said...

So true and if food truly reflected the value of its production, no-one could afford this stuff that has travelled thousands of miles. Nothing like growing your own fruit and veges, as well, to make you appreciate what is in season and when.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I love seasonal berries, and so does Cadbury, but the prices are just too ridiculous off-season, even though I can get pretty much anything I want.

One of the things I look forward to when I go on vacation in late May/early June is buying fresh blueberries. In Colorado and in New England (two places I frequently go) I can buy a 20-oz box firm, tasty blueberries for the same price as an itty-bitty 4" square flat of squishy ones back home. It's that kind of disparity that reminds me how important it is to eat seasonally, when possible. Those cheap and perfect blueberries are worth waiting waiting for.

E Makes Art said...

I do tend to eat food even when it's not in season, but it IS way better when it's in season...and I heard it's better for your body and rhythms. Great post!

Oh, and thank you for your kind comment last week...we are all feeling better now. : )


RG said...

Around here, where there are dozens of special seasonal items - especially all kinds of berries, non-tropical tree fruits, sweet corn and typical garden stuff - people tend to really enjoy them then and not buy the off-season imports. It is oranges, grapes, bananas, and tropical fruits that we import like crazy!

But then, we produce huge amounts of berries and potatoes which must be sold and consumed elsewhere, so it is two-edged situation.

Bill said...

We had a bumper crop of apples and pears this year in New England. So we are busy making apple pear sauce, chunky and smooth, which goes great in yogurt, pies, or just by itself. Can't eat all of it in season, it's nice to extend the harvest.

Megan Coyle said...

Food is pretty tasty when it's in season - and a bit cheaper which makes it even better :)

EG CameraGirl said...

For sure seasonal fruits and vegetables taste best! They are usually the most economical too! Being a frugal person (some say "cheap") this appeals to me. :)

Draffin Bears said...

What a lovely post and I agree fruit and vegetables do taste better when they are in season.
I have sometimes made the mistake of buying strawberries, out of season and they just do not taste as good.
We had an apple crumble for dessert the other night.

Happy rest of the week

Caroline Gill said...

I still recall the taste of those peas fresh from the pod. Once the farmer had been round with his harvesting machinery, those of us who lived in the village were invited to go gleaning - and it was surprising how many peas would otherwise have been wasted. It was such a positive village community activity - one of the aspects of country living I miss.

Gillena Cox said...

apples are not grown here in Trinidad and Tobago, we import them; a few decades ago we got them around Christmas time, but nowadays, they are in the market all through the year

much love