A restaurant menu focused on seasonal produce is now super cool, but do you know why it’s important to eat seasonally?
Quite simply, when you eat locally and seasonally you know you are eating the freshest, most abundantly available produce. It is better for everyone – you get the tastiest veg, the local farmer benefits and food miles (the distance our food has to travel from the farm to your fork) decrease so you do your bit for saving the environment, too. Another unexpected benefit is to reconnect to nature’s seasonal cycle. If you have children, this is especially important as it teaches that food does grow at specific times, a hard concept to grasp when imports from all around the globe ensure that supermarket shelves look the same practically every week of the year.
If you’re wondering when you should start, the answer is: now. A survey in BBC Good Food magazine showed we’re not as good as we think at figuring out what is in season when. Of the 2000 people it asked, 86% claimed it was important to shop seasonally, 78% said they were doing it – and yet only 5% could say when blackberries were at their best. I want to help make 2019 the year that you can embrace this concept.
Join my Facebook Page for regular reminders of what’s in season each month and a little inspiration for what to do with it.
Where to buy seasonally
Farmers’ markets are a great place to find local seasonal veg. Make it your mission this month to find out what’s on near you. Ask friends and family and, if you’re feeling bold, ask the question on your Facebook page to get the quickest response. Failing that, try these two resources to find a place near you:
Having someone else do the hard work and just bring you the goodies is also a good thing. If you’ve never considered getting an organic veg box, it can be an amazing experience. It’ll teach you super fast what is in season when, you’ll get some of the best produce available in your area and delivered to your door, and it will wake you up to the magic of cooking.
I wonder whether this resonates with you. I actually LOVE cooking but with family and a job, it often turns into a real chore; a juggling act between what everyone wants to eat (usually the same things week in, week out) and what I have actually got in the fridge or cupboards. Inviting a veg box into your life forces you to try something new, and this can be very invigorating. Of course, you can pick and choose the types of ingredients you want and avoid having things added that your family hates, but I urge you to have a go and see what happens.
The following offer a huge variety of veg-only or fruit and veg boxes, some even with a ‘pick your own’ element where you can pick and choose exactly how much of what you have
Do check my Facebook page VitalityWise for inspiration, but let’s start off with something delicious that you might not have tried that’s in season this month: Jerusalem artichoke, one of winter’s most delicious and subtle vegetables.
They have nothing to do with the Holy Land. They are part of the sunflower family, and it’s easy to see how a relation of a girasole (Italian for sunflower) could end up being labelled ‘Jerusalem’. Don’t be put off by the knobbliness. Peeling can be a pain, so I hardly ever bother, but you do have to put them into lemon water the minute the flesh is exposed or they discolour.
I have put one of my favourite Jerusalem artichoke recipes, courtesy of Nigel Slater below.
Creamed artichoke, chard and crisp garlic
This recipe serves 2-3 people.
- 800g Jerusalem artichokes
- ½ lemon
- 75g butter
- 20g parmesan, grated
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 100g chard, young leaves
- 40g butter
- 10g parmesan, in one piece
- Peel the artichokes, then either boil them in salted water, acidulated with the lemon juice, or cook them in a vegetable steamer (about 15 minutes, until tender).
- While the artichokes are cooking, peel the garlic and slice it thinly. Trim the chard, cutting off and discarding any browning edges on the stems.
- Melt 40g of butter in a shallow pan, then add the sliced garlic and leave to cook until golden and crisp. You will need to move it around the pan and take care that it becomes crisp, but doesn’t burn. Remove from the pan and place on a piece of kitchen paper.
- Drain the artichokes and mash to a smooth purée, either by hand or using a machine, adding the 75g piece of butter as you go. Season with salt, black pepper and some of the grated parmesan.
- Return the shallow pan to the heat and add the chard leaves, tossing them in the garlicky butter that remains in the pan for a couple of minutes until they start to wilt. Divide the creamed artichoke between two hot plates, then place the chard and garlic on top. Add a few shavings of parmesan, cut from the block with a vegetable peeler, and the reserved fried garlic at the last moment.