• 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 five-a-day boogie

Domestic goddess rating: 10% (it’s Friday, so it must be curry night) Five-a-day: 3/5 Food miles: none

On the menu: Toast, jam ‘n’ juice (breakfast); re-heated beans ‘n’ greens (lunch); mm-hmmm… curry & rice from the local takeaway (supper)

This morning Princess the Elder did a class assembly all about the five-a-day campaign. In case you’ve been out of the country for the last few years, this is the government’s push to get us all eating five portions of fruit or vegetables each day.

What surprised me was one little eight-year-old’s assertion that eating one banana took care of your entire five portions of fruit & veg for a day. My eyebrows raised a little at that – surely not? – and I began to wonder what, exactly, the government means by five-a-day.

Here’s what I found out on the website devoted to the topic;

  • my daughter’s classmate was wrong: a medium-sized banana is only one portion of fruit
  • you have to eat 2 satsumas to count as one portion
  • you can only count juice as one portion per day however much you drink, because it doesn’t contain much fibre
  • just two broccoli spears counts as one portion (this is far less than I’d serve for each person at a meal)
  • on the other hand, you have to eat four heaped tablespoons of green beans – a bit more than I’d serve, I think 
  • but only three heaped tablespoons of peas
  • and if you happen to like globe artichoke hearts, you’ll have to eat two to count as a portion
  • pulses count too: so baked beans, haricot beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, cannelloni beans are all included. You can only count one portion a day though, however much you eat – though there’s no explanation as to why
  • potatoes don’t count: they’re carbohydrates, apparently, not veg

It’s all largely more sensible than my dear daughter’s schoolmates were making out, but there are a few wierd-outs. Like many attempts to codify what should be common sense, it really needs to be interpreted, not stuck to rigidly, it seems.

As anyone who reads this regularly will know, I’ve been exercised by the five-a-day thing simply because it’s easy to be seasonal if you don’t eat any fruit and veg – but obviously that’s not the point of this, so if you’re going to take the “eating seasonally” message on board, you also have to take the “five-a-day” message on board too. Or perhaps, rather than just borrowing government-speak, I should just be trying to eat as much fruit and veg as I can. It’s not as easy as it seems.


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