The word ‘seasonality’ gets bandied about quite a lot (by me as much as anyone) and when I’ve referred to it in the past it’s always been in the context of what the supermarkets have in stock and when they have it. We assume that this seasonality is the responsibility of those supermarkets – why do they supply us with low quality produce that has seen more air miles than your average frequent flyer? Why don’t they make more of an effort to stock seasonal British fruit and vegetables? Well, these are all still very valid questions, but there are a few ways you can take responsibility for your own consumption of seasonal produce, ways that bypass the supermarkets altogether. I’ve discussed growing your own ingredients before, but this isn’t always possible or practical. So how can you solve the old seasonality dilemma without organising a supermarket uprising?
Another word that is becoming increasingly common: Foraging. We see it in relation to restaurants and television programmes but has it ever been something you’ve considered yourself? Foraging isn’t just limited to the countryside. There are countless public spaces in cities and towns where fruit is left unpicked, going to waste and organisations like Abundance London strive to ensure it gets used up, even providing the public with a local fruit map. Of course, foraging requires research and advice – you need to know where to look, what to look for and, most importantly, know you’re not picking and eating anything highly poisonous. But worry not, there are countless resources and courses available for those of you serious about foraging for your own food. And the very best thing? The satisfaction you’ll get from knowing you’re eating something that’s not only very fresh, but also very free.
So what else can you do to beat the self-imposed supermarket seasonality restrictions? Well, now is the perfect time of year to pick-your-own. ‘But I don’t have any of my own! That’s the problem!’ – is something you might shout at me in return. Of course, I don’t mean your OWN own. I mean someone else’s own, namely those belonging to a nearby farm which is quite happy to open its crops to the public and let you pay for what you pick. In August there’s plenty of crops to look forward – raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, plums, cauliflower, sweetcorn, French beans and peas to name but a few – check online to see what’s happening in your local area and I’m betting you’re no more than a short drive away from a pick your own farm. Of course, there is an added bonus to this pick-your-own malarkey – a day filled with out and about activity during the summer holidays is not something to be sniffed at.
Just one more thing – before you head out on your own personal food finding mission, just make sure you’ve got enough space in the freezer for when you get back. When all this warm weather finishes, autumn brings the prospect of homemade crumbles and the only thing better than a homemade crumble is a homemade crumble containing fruit picked by your own fair hand.