Seasonal food…the slim pickings of February…

by mathew bose. 1 Comment

I’m watching a friend stoically work their way through this pictured apricot. I have to stop them and photograph it. They think I’m bonkers. I think they’re bonkers. It’s an impasse. Of course, I think they’re more bonkers than me because they are eating a fruit that is no more in season than a crop top and clam diggers. Sure it smells like an apricot (albeit faintly) and it has more than a passing resemblance to one (except paler) but it is an apricot in name only.

It’s madness and just plain silly to be buying this type of fruit at this time of the year in the UK. We don’t harvest them here till July and August although the season is sometimes reported as May to September but that’s pushing it love! The former are the UK ones from Kent, the latter the European ones. Any in the shops outside of these times are being ‘green picked’ and flown in from the short winter seasons in Chile or South Africa. Forced fruit and carbon-air-miles to eat an acidic and beige tasting fruit?!? An unnatural crunchy texture that no amount of room temperature ripening attempts can salvage?!? Come on people…

NO, NO, NO. Stop it…

…please?!?

Okay, yes, February is a tough month for fruit that is seasonal and local, I see that, but then it’s also a short month and there are other ways to get your vitamins and minerals – many splendid vegetables in season and local grown like leeks, cabbages, carrots, kale, turnips, swedes, beetroot, celeriac and cauliflower and also a good few nutrient packed herbs like parsley, dill, thyme, sage, sorrel, chervil, and rosemary.

What about buying frozen? Berries in particular freeze well and are always handy to keep for all year round use, especially if you are planning to use them in smoothies, cooking or to add them, compote style, to your breakfast.

You may well baulk at the suggestion I’m about to make but stay with me! Why not turn to tinned fruit during our seasonal fruit dearth? If you are like me and grew up in a time when tinned fruit was mushy and syrupy and just tasted like pear drops regardless of what it said on the outside of the tin, then you, like me, are in need of a revisit. There are some wonderful examples of tinned fruit that come free of sugar based syrups and actually taste like the fruit should. I know! A revelation! This especially applies to tropical fruit that simply isn’t ever going to be local to us.

May I also offer for your consideration, with it’s exemplary taste, texture and it’s different yet equal healthiness…the British apple. The actual indigenous (being ludicrously relabelled as ‘heritage’) varieties rather than these made-y up-y ‘club’ ones, I hasten to add. In season and ready to thrill you with sensory gorgeousness and fill you with nutritional loveliness. AND if that isn’t enough then what about the British pear? Ditto on the taste and health front! And please don’t be all mimsy about their shape or any outer texture that isn’t the usual shiny orb you are used to. That shininess is wax and the fruit bred to fit into the supermarket’s packaging…it’s amazing isn’t it how nature knows to grow fruit to fit exactly into the supermarket’s little plastic trays…

Get in quick because they are about to lose their lustre and you will need to temporally turn to Europe for fruit, if the increased vegetable option offers you no comfort. Rhubarb (forced) is available too although it’s easily arguable that the sugar needed to sweeten this far out strips any nutritional benefit, so I’d not eat it for the health…!

So we turn to Europe (only very occasionally further afield) and February offers pomegranates from Spain that are a healthier choice than the afore mentioned apricots as they are in season and bursting with goodness. Pomegranates are ridiculously good for you. Same for the Spanish crop of oranges and grapefruits arriving in our stores now…

But what’s this I’ve noticed?!? The Spanish stuff is available as organic (most important when dealing with fruit that is highly susceptible to disease and therefore tends to be treated with pesticides the most – organic producers can only use two different ones, if desperate, compared to the multitude used by the regular producers) but the UK stuff isnt!?!? Take this bag of kale…

It’s seasonal and highly nutritious (a borderline superfood) and grown here…but not organic?!? The organic version is available, yes, but imported from Spain…! Does this mean this particular supermarket is just taking what it can get or making those decisions financially? Some might argue that kale needs less organic attention? Give it a good wash and Bob’s your uncle…? But I look around the fruit and vegetable aisles and see the same depressing story repeated everywhere…hmmm…

I agree it can be difficult (and some might say boring in this world of blanket availability) to stick to the local seasonal offerings but it is this very assumption that everything should be available to us every day of the year that is breeding substandard and tasteless produce and causing ecological and political distress throughout the world. It’s just something to think about and do what we can when we can…

Lawks, I’ve got the bit between my teeth about this seasonal, local eating malarkey so this is just the beginning…

…sorry!

x happy eating! M

To your health! M

One Response to Seasonal food…the slim pickings of February…

  1. wendy greenwood says:

    Hello i just got over a nasty virus so i put myself on wholefoods like that bag of kale which if steamed for 3 minutes is lovely.

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