• In season now: May

    New this month: Asparagus! The food of gods... and carrots are back.

    Still in season from last month: cauliflower, chard, green cabbage, salad leaves, main-crop potatoes (from store), salad leaves, sea kale, spring greens, rhubarb

    Goodbye till next year to: Purple sprouting broccoli (sniff, sniff), leeks, stored parsnips, forced rhubarb

  • What I’m doing here

    This all started when I picked the first strawberries from my new allotment.

    I'd never been so enraptured or so excited by food. It was a shock to find that anything could taste so good.

    So what - I'd never had strawberries before?

    No - all the strawberries I'd had were shop-bought, like as not flown in from intensive growers in Spain or Chile, and eaten in winter when strawberries should be a distant summer memory.

    It revolutionised my thinking about the fresh food we eat every day. I started to wonder if you got the same amazing taste from all types of food grown and eaten in season. And then I decided to do something about it.

    The Year of Eating Seasonally is my little experiment to find out what it's really like not to have it all. The only fruit and veg I and my family are going to eat in 2008 will be what's growing in the ground at the time (or, in winter, what I can get out of store).

    I want to find out if the hungry gap is really as hungry as everyone says it is: whether you're really eating nothing but cabbage all winter; and whether you miss strawberries in December.

    Along the way I hope I'll save a few tons of carbon being released into the atmosphere on my behalf, as I won't be requiring those French beans flown from Chile, thanks very much. And I hope I'll be rediscovering what food can really taste like.

    If you have any comments, please feel free to post them anywhere you like - or you can email me at sallywhite@hotmail.com.

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The humble frozen pea

Domestic goddess rating: 50% (used a lot of cheats today) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: about 40

On the menu: Toast, jam ‘n’ juice (breakfast); pasta & pesto (lunch); omelette, spuds & peas (supper)

You may notice peas have suddenly appeared on the menu. These of course are the frozen variety: fresh at this time of year are zoomed in from halfway across the world and are strictly for the very rich and very conscience-free.

No, these are my standard fall-back position, and though I try not to use them all the time (boring, apart from anything else) I think it’s allowed as a cheat. Eating veg from store – like root veg and spuds out of sacks – is better than eating from frozen, as you use so much energy freezing things: but if you’ve got to freeze something, then peas are a good choice. They’re mostly British, after all, and hold most of their nutritional value well (better, in fact, than if you bought them “fresh” at the supermarket).

Here are a few useless trivia details about frozen peas for you:

  • There are 35,000 hectares of peas grown in the UK each year, equivalent to about 70,000 football pitches.
  • This produces about 160,000 tonnes of frozen peas – that’s 2 billion 80 gram portions.
  • The UK is the largest producer of peas for freezing in Europe. We have a unique East facing seaboard which is ideally suited to pea production.

And on the nutritional side:

  • the Austrian Consumers’ Association did a report in 2003 which said frozen vegetables are often healthier than imported fresh vegetables sold in the supermarket out of season.
  • blast-frozen immediately after picking, good frozen peas are superior in flavour, texture and nutritional value to old or out-of-season fresh peas (source: Waitrose)
  • but… Frozen peas will have also lost about a quarter of their vitamin C content. (source: The Vegetarian Society)

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