• 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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Where to get seasonal food #2: The allotment

Domestic goddess rating: 0% (slogged through four hours of gardening in a thunderstorm, I deserve a break) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: none

On the menu: sausage and egg (breakfast); cup of coffee and rain (lunch); curry and rice (supper)

Well – I know it looks a bit wild and woolly at the moment, but I thought I’d introduce you to my allotment.

This is where I hope I’ll get most of my seasonal food this year – it doesn’t yet supply us all year round because I haven’t cracked how to grow a constant supply (am constantly thwarted by a combination of pigeons, slugs and appalling weather). But I do my best – you can make out the Savoy cabbages I’ve just planted for next winter in the foreground, so you see I do plan ahead a bit.

Growing your own is by far the best way to get hold of seasonal produce. You don’t have any problems with your source, as you have control over what veggies are available when. Also things treated as rarities in the shops – forced rhubarb, salsify, purple sprouting broccoli, that kind of thing – are commonplace on allotments, so you start taking them for granted (I think this is why I’ve been so shocked how difficult it’s been to source seasonal food). And what’s more they’re very cheap – the price of a seed, in most cases.

It’s good for your fitness (you work up a real sweat digging over those beds), it’s good for your health as you get to eat lots of completely chemical-free, ultra-fresh veggies – and it’s good for your pocket. What more can you say than that?


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