,

why eat Seasonal Foods?

With the cycle of the seasons, comes a change in temperature and daylight and if we listen to our intelligent bodies, that have evolved over millions of years we might sense an instinctive need to adapt the types of foods that we eat to mirror the shift in season.

It’s important for us to eat seasonal produce, because the food is harvested upon ripeness, reducing early picking and packing, its grown closer to home, so that there is less time spent travelling from farm to table, this means that the produce has much more flavour and nutritional benefits. Nature provides all that we need at the appropriate time of year to sustain a healthy body.

If you ever gone fruit picking or foraging as a child, I’m sure you will remember the pleasure of picking your own fruit, plus the delicious taste of that juicy apple or blackberry all your senses heightened during that experience. Forever stored in or memory banks to be recalled each time that season comes back around.

 The difficulty that comes from living In a western society is that we have become so used to having the choice of foods that we desire on supermarket shelves all year round, that we get into the habits of picking up the same things regularly. With many of us having lost the awareness of when and how our food is produced.

Many items in supermarkets are not seasonally grown in our country or locality and have been transported many thousands of miles across the globe before the food is ripe. The produce is often sprayed with chemicals, waxes or concealed inside packaging filled with gases to preserve the shelf life. These items require extra unnecessary packaging that is not always recyclable and a vast majority of it ends in landfill or sometimes in our rivers and oceans.

Many more people are becoming aware that our climate is struggling with the damage that our overpopulated species and greedy corporate industries and leaders are doing to the World.

The cruel and damaging way in which we treat other species, the forests, the oceans, the list goes on! It can be overwhelming, we might want to help in some way but are not sure where to start!

There are many ways to help (that might be another blog for another day) but we can help ourselves, by starting small and smart by thinking about how you shop for food.

1. If you buy your fruit and veg from supermarkets try and buy the seasonal produce, if you can afford some organic items, they should not have all the harsh chemical pesticides on them that are depleting our bee population and other important insects, (our natural pesticides) that we need for pollination and the eating of aphids, black and greenfly etc. Plus bring your own mesh bags for fruit and veg and other items so that you don’t take home a load of unwanted packaging, highlighting to the supermarket that they need to reduce the amount of packaging they use.

2. Try to buy locally grown seasonal produce if possible, from farm shops and wholefood suppliers. Buying from shops that you can take your mesh or cotton bags with you and weigh out loose items such as pasta, rice and more.

3. A great way to eat seasonal and organic food is to order an organic fruit and veg box delivery, from companies such as Riverford or Able & Cole. Which are quite affordable and often have some different types of veg that you might not usually see in the big supermarkets. Which are limited to the ranges that they offer. Riverford also include a recipe sheet that shows a variety of ways to prepare and cook these items.

4. If you are lucky enough to have space in your garden to experiment growing your own veg in a veg patch or pots, you will benefit from being out in the fresh air, getting your hands in the earth and delight in eating the flavoursome fruits of your labour.

If you have young children, it’s a great way to teach them about where fruit and veg comes from. They are usually eager to learn and it gets them away from the TV, phones and computer games for a while, plus seeing their faces light up when they pick and eat what they have grown is a treasure.

5. One last and extremely important thing is to Waste Less Food. Try to reduce your waste. Its tricky when you supermarket buy as its easy to over purchase. If you can reduce some items from your shopping list that are not a necessity you will save yourself some money and help the planet too ! Soups are an easy and quick way to make a hearty and wholesome meal plus great way to use up any veg from your fridge or larder.

One thing the lock down was good for was to force society to slow down and to appreciate the simple things in life that can bring great pleasure along with the good weather that we had it allowed for many people to spend more time in their gardens.

Remember that adding just a few seasonal items will be a great way to nourish you and your family and help provide a buffer against the cooler  weather.

To get you off to a start this Autumn I’m sharing a soup recipe that I make every Autumn and it is suitable for vegan and nonvegans alike. Its colourful and nourishing and the flavour improves if you have any left over for the next day.

It’s originally a Russian soup called “Borscht” but the main veg for this soup is grown in the U.K in the Autumn.

Recipe: serves 6

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

450g/ 1lb of raw beetroot, peeled and chopped

1 large cooking apple, although I have found eating apples work too

2 sticks of celery, chopped

 4oz of mushrooms, chopped

25g or 1oz of dairy free margarine/ vegan butter

30ml/2tbsp sunflower oil

2 litres/3 1/2pts vegetable stock

 5ml/ 1 tsp cumin seeds

Pinch of thyme dried or fresh

1 large bay leaf

Juice of a lemon, ½ for the soup and ½ for souring the cream

salt and ground black pepper to taste

150mls ¼ pint of vegan cream

Few sprigs of fresh dill .

Method:

1. Place all the chopped vegetables into a large saucepan, with the margarine, oil and 3 the stock liquid. Cover and cook gently for about 15 minutes, shake the pan occasionally.

2. Stir in the cumin seeds and cook for a minute, then add the remaining stock, thyme, bay leaf, lemon juice and seasoning.

3. Bring to the boil then cover and turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, for about 30 minutes.

4. Strain the vegetables and reserve the liquid. Pass the vegetables through a food processor or blender until they are smooth and creamy.

5. Return all the vegetables to the pan, stir in the reserved stock and reheat. Check the seasoning.

6.  In a small separate bowl squeeze the juice from ½ a lemon into the cream and stir together, it will make the cream thicken and taste great.

 7. (Optional) serve the Borscht with swirls of the sour cream and topped with dill.

Enjoy this hearty and nourishing soup.

Let me know how you get on with this recipe and if you have any Autumn recipes that are your favourites that you would like to share.