Buying and eating seasonal food offers a host of benefits: it’s better for the environment, tastier, healthier, and cheaper, and it can even encourage you to experiment with new dishes and ingredients
Alliance Online, which specialises in kitchen and catering equipment, explains why eating seasonally is better all round.
It’s better for the environment
The reason we can have summer crops in winter (and vice versa) in the UK is because shops are able to source those foods from countries with warmer climates.
But, this means that your food has to travel much further to reach your plate, increasing the carbon footprint of your dinner.
Imported food is also more likely to require lots of plastic wrap or packaging to keep it safe and fresh in transit, increasing waste.
Growers may also need to use much higher quantities of artificial pesticides and fertilisers or even electrically heated greenhouses to force crops that wouldn’t otherwise grow in winter, all of which can be harmful to the environment.
So, eating locally grown, seasonal produce helps to reduce the distance your food needs to travel, and it’s more likely to have been grown in an environmentally friendly way, too.
As we’ve mentioned, foods grown in foreign countries often need to travel long distances before they end up in British supermarkets.
That often means they’re not all that fresh by the time they actually reach your plate.
Growers will also sometimes harvest foods a bit early in order to make sure they’re in a decent condition by the time they arrive in the UK, meaning they aren’t completely ripe when picked.
This can have a detrimental effect on the flavour of our foods, which is why they often don’t taste nearly as good when grown out of season.
Buying seasonal, local produce reduces the distance your food needs to travel, meaning it’s more likely to be fresh when you come to eat it.
Foods that are in season are also more likely to have been grown and harvested at the optimal time, which helps to maximise their natural favours.
For much the same reason that it tastes better, seasonal produce is often better for you, too.
Imported foods can be locked away in cargo holds for several days, meaning they are less fresh and therefore less nutritious by the time they reach the supermarket shelf.
Local, seasonal produce has less far to travel and so is more likely to be fresh and full of nutrients when you come to eat it.
It encourages you to experiment with new dishes and ingredientsWhen you’re in the habit of buying the same produce all year round, it can be all too easy to just keep cooking the same few dishes day in, day out.
But, when you focus on buying only what’s in season, it can give you the motivation you need to try all sorts of new ingredients that you might otherwise overlook.
This way, you’re always going to be experimenting with new dishes, so your menu will never get boring!
Buying home-grown British food when it’s in season is often cheaper.
This is because produce is much more abundant when it is in season, which reduces the prices.The cost of growing and transporting food locally is also much cheaper than importing it, further reducing the price you pay in shops.
With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that eating seasonally has become such a big trend in the catering industry.
Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at Alliance Online, says: “Seasonality is a major buzzword in the hospitality industry right now, and with good reason.
“Produce that is in season is tastier, more eco-friendly, and affordable for restaurants to source.
“Using seasonal ingredients allows chefs to create dishes that complement the weather outside and helps ensure their menus are nicely varied across the year.
“Lots of top restaurants and renowned chefs draw a lot of inspiration from whatever is in season, with daily specials based on ingredients they can buy locally at short notice.
“So, for restaurant-quality meals at home, eat foods as they come into season and shop as locally as possible.
“Don’t think you need to be able to cook like a pro chef to eat seasonally, either.
“Simplicity is often the best approach, as it allows the flavours of your ingredients to really shine.
“When designing a dish, chefs will often pick one focus ingredient that is in season, then add other elements to help bring out its natural flavours.
“So, don’t overthink it: as long as your ingredients are fresh, local, and in season, even the simplest recipes will taste amazing.”
What’s in season this August?
- French beans
- Runner beans
- Spring onions
How to use beetroot in your cooking
“Beetroot is often overlooked as an ingredient, but this root vegetable is not only nutritious but also wonderfully diverse,” says Mike.
“If you’re growing your own you’ll know it’s ready to pick once the roots are around the size of a tennis ball.
“However, if you don’t have your own veg patch, expect to find plenty of beetroot in stock at your local supermarket or farm shop around this time.
“The benefits of beetroot are bountiful with it known to be a great source of fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
“Alongside this, it improves digestion, boosts energy levels and lowers blood pressure.
“If you’re looking for ways to incorporate it into your cooking, don’t stop at salads.
“Beetroot can make a tasty addition to a classic hummus recipe. Simply whiz up your beetroot with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil and lemon to make the perfect summer dip.
“If you’re a little more adventurous why not try Borscht, a classic Eastern European soup which can be enjoyed hot or cold.
“Borscht recipes are packed with vegetables giving you an extra health kick. To keep it authentic top with fresh dill and sour cream.
“Lastly if you have more of a sweet tooth, beetroot can make a great base for brownies which not only gives a fresh, gooey, texture but can also significantly cut down the fat content so you can enjoy this dessert with a little less guilt!”