Seasonal eating – Autumn
Is there a better smell than caramelised butternut squash? The sweet, orange flesh crisping at the edges and softening in the heat, ready to be scooped up and eaten in greedy mouthfuls. This Autumn I’ve been cooking butternut squash by the trayful in an attempt to shift my cooking habits to be more seasonal, alongside a whole heap of his Autumnal friends (cue “Yummy yummy yummy, I got squash in my tummy” playing on repeat in my head as I crank my oven up to 210C). But why is cooking seasonal important when we can get whatever we want all year round?
Helps the environment!
Eating in time with the seasons is another way you can do your bit to look after the earth. If you eat seasonally you will be cutting down on the road/air miles as we need to import food which is out of season from climates which have the right weather conditions the food needs to grow. For example, if you live in the UK and eat cherry tomatoes in December, the chances are that those tomatoes have come from as far as Morocco. If you have a packet of tomatoes a week for your lunch box, think of the carbon footprint your favourite snack has racked up! Eating a little more seasonally, like swapping your tomatoes to satsumas which are in season during the winter period, means that you can tuck into your fruit guilt free!
To make sure it gets to your shelves on time, the fruit and veg we eat is harvested early so it can mature in transport to you. If your food isn’t in season and is coming from further afield, chances are it’s not going to be anywhere near ripe by the time it’s in your shopping basket, plus it’s time on transport/in storage means they will have a reduction in phytonutrient content (anti-oxidents, anti-inflammatory agents) which are what gives our veggies their deep colours. Less colour, less flavour, less nutrients = not worth the miles or your money.
If your fruit and veg are in season it’s likely that the produce will be in abundance (if the crop wasn’t bad). If there’s more of the product the chances are it’ll be less expensive, as shops want to sell as much as they can while so much of it has been harvested. Plus, you won’t be paying for the excessive transport fares and import taxes which is a win-win! Next time you go into your supermarket, look at what is on offer and compare it to what’s in season – chances are the two will coincide.
We don’t have to be perfect…
Just like the zero-waste movement we don’t need a small percentage of people eating only seasonal produce strictly; we need a bunch of people getting on board working IMperfectly! If you start to become more conscious and try to make little changes, these little changes will snowball and turn into massive waves in the food industry. Think about how much vegan food is available, think about the change in attitudes towards plastic wrapping, there’s so much we can do just by thinking a little more about what we are putting in our baskets.
There’s a lot of resources out there to support you if shopping seasonally is something you want to incorporate into your life. In the UK, the BBC have a handy calendar which is very clear, has a whole heap of fruit, veg and meat and updates monthly. You could pick a star ingredient of the week and build your dinners around it…cheap, easy and encourages creativity in your kitchen!
Sweet, flexible and an excellent base ingredient, find some vegetarian and vegan recipes with leeks and the star below:
Cabbage can be contentious, so if you can’t think of one recipe to include this underrated veg, how about 10!
Turnips conjure up images of the middle ages for me, simple, rustic and a bit muddy. However, I was so pleased to find recipes which really celebrated the turnip in all it’s glory!
Apple season is now upon us, so why not try including these everyday items into your dinners? They are so flexible, this site has forty…FORTY…savory recipes you can try out in your home.
Can’t find what you like?
If you’re struggling to come up with a mid-week fix that includes what’s in season now, why not try looking a couple of aisles over in your supermarket to the frozen food section? Here you can find fruits and veggies which have been frozen in season at their peak freshness and stored just for you to get your teeth into.
If you buy a bulk load of seasonal produce but are worried about not consuming all of it, you can pop some in the freezer yourself! Being able to freeze fresh food means that you aren’t wasting leftovers and only a small amount of nutrients are lost (the only time nutrients are lost from freezing when you buy frozen fruit and veggies which get blanched before the produce is frozen), compared to the reduced amount of nutrients available from unseasonal/under-ripe items. Remember, if you’re freezing your own to label when you froze them as the food starts to lose nutrients after 3 months.
Let me know if you try any of the recipes above and tag me in pictures on Instagram – I’d love to see your creations!
Lots of love, always.