• 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.

Oranges and lemons

Domestic goddess rating: 100% (marmalade queen today) Five-a-day: 5/5 Food miles: sadly, a marmalade-induced 700

On the menu: Toast, marmalade & juice (breakfast); cornish pasty (lunch); spaghetti bolognese and salad (supper)

marmalade1.jpg

Look what I did!

January is Seville oranges season, so I figured what could be more seasonal than to make some marmalade. Off I went to snaffle the last of the oranges from the grocer’s (leaving it a little late in the month, really), and here’s the result. I didn’t quite get a great set (I think I need to adjust the quantities a bit or something) but it tastes fabulous.

 Now all this makes for uncomfortable reading on the food miles front, of course, as though this is undeniably the season for Seville oranges (and indeed all types of citrus), you have to ship them in from Spain. I’m a bit puzzled as to why we don’t produce our own Seville oranges in this country yet (perhaps it’s because then they’d be London oranges? or Bristol oranges?!). Loads of people produce beautiful lemons, mandarins and limes at home in conservatories, patio pots and greenhouses – admittedly in the south, and with a bit of help from the greenhouse heater as they have to be kept frost-free, but it is possible. And though I know there’s a carbon cost to using heat to produce crops commercially, we happily condone heating greenhouses to produce tomatoes in March, after all.

Anyway, for now we have to put up with driving them all the way from Spain instead. It’d be interesting to work out the carbon produced by driving a juggernaut 700 miles vs what a heated commercial greenhouse producing citrus chucks out. But in any case, this looks as if it’s one case where environmentally-friendly and seasonal don’t go hand in hand.

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