• 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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Buying British

Domestic goddess rating: 10% (working too hard to cook) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: none unless you count the oranges – if you do, it’s 700 miles

On the menu: Toast & juice (breakfast); cheese sandwich and a couple of oranges (lunch); tunafish pasta (again) and salad (supper)

One of those days when I race out of the house as soon as the kids are in school and work my butt off until I come home just before suppertime. Luckily my ever-patient hubby was home, so we didn’t all starve.

I’ve been a bit flummoxed lately by the trouble I’ve been having finding seasonal produce. Maybe it’s only this time of year, but I’ve had to really hunt for it. The other day I went to three different shops just to track down some kale. And as for rhubarb… I can forgive the local grocer for not stocking it, as he tries hard but suffers badly from supermarket competition. But when I went over to Waitrose yesterday, I discovered that despite flagging up their rhubarb as “Cook’s Ingredient Seasonal Rhubarb” – it was shipped in from Holland.

How can they do this when there are rhubarb growers (you can read more about one of them here) working nineteen to the dozen in Yorkshire to provide succulent stems of forced rhubarb at this very moment? In its heyday, there were 200 growers in the Rhubarb triangle. Now there are just twelve. Unless they get buyers from somewhere, this is another seasonal food we’re perfectly capable of growing here (and alot better, many would say) but buy in from elsewhere.

They do say that rhubarb is enjoying something of a renaissance in the UK. But if supermarkets, grocers and other suppliers refuse to support our domestic industry and carry on shipping in the stuff from Holland, what chance has this centuries-old tradition got? No wonder nobody eats seasonally when they don’t know what they’ve got on their doorstep.

Personally, I wouldn’t touch Dutch rhubarb with a bargepole. I don’t often get all patriotic, but in this case I’ll stand up and be counted. It’s a British fruit. Let’s keep it British.


One Response

  1. […] banging on about quite regularly since I started this – simply because I’ve been shocked at how little British food I’ve been able to find in the shops, even that which is in […]

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