• 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.

Chickens again

Domestic goddess rating: 90% (eating home-grown for supper again) Five-a-day: 5/5 Food miles: none (second day running!)

On the menu: Toast,  marmalade & juice (breakfast); pasta and salad (lunch); free-range chicken, home-grown sprout tops, and potatoes (supper)

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One more thing about chickens, now you’ve met my ladies.

I used to work in a chicken shed, when I was about 13 years old (you wouldn’t be allowed to do it now). I’ve never forgotten the experience. Chickens crammed into boxes, unable to turn round, treated as egg machines… it couldn’t be further from the happy, clucky birds we kept in our own back garden.

Well – that’s not quite the whole truth. I hadn’t exactly forgotten; I’d just stopped thinking about it. So like most of the country I’d fallen into the habit of buying whatever chicken was on the shelf: not exactly the really cheap stuff, just chicken that was, well, bog-standard chicken.

That was until I saw Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s harrowing film on Channel 4 a while back about mass chicken production in this country. I already kind of knew that meat birds were kept in the same kind of conditions I’d seen at the egg sheds all those years ago. But I needed to have it put in front of me, in graphic technicolour, so I could see I was playing a part in keeping them in those sheds. I felt ashamed that someone like me, who really doesn’t have the excuse that I can’t afford it, couldn’t spare a few quid to stop a creature suffering that much.

So the same night as I saw the film, I decided I’d eaten my last non-free-range chicken. We had a yummy free-range chicken breast each this evening: plump, fat-free, healthy and most important of all, we hadn’t required something to suffer for week after week to get it onto our plates. I urge anyone reading this to do the same.

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