Have you ever noticed how a supermarket’s fresh produce section looks the same all year round? Since the first UK supermarket opened in 1948, the relationship between a farmer and buyer has drifted significantly and as a result, consumers have become less connected to the food they eat, no matter what diet they follow. The infinite year-round choice of tropical fruit and far-flown veg creates an options paralysis for consumers, there’s so much on offer you don’t know where to start!
Choosing British produce is a good place to start, especially when a particular fruit or veg is in season (I share monthly seasonal guides on my Instagram @bybonniebaker) and choosing produce from home soil means less food miles so it will taste fresher and better. Food in season is always more nutritionally dense which in turn provides us with the vitamins and minerals our body requires at that time of year and of course reconnects us with the rhythms of the growing year.
When thinking about fruit and veg in season, it’s important to remember that growing seasons cannot be rigidly defined, they are fluid and move with weather dependencies. Sometimes it’s useful to blur the edges of seasons together because fresh produce could be two to three weeks early or late, depending on the growing conditions of that year. This is particularly true for Winter months where we see a slowing down of growth stages and overall seasonal energy.
Look out for the Union Jack and Red Tractor Logo on the packaging by checking labels. This is a habit I now can’t get out of, and I find it quite satisfying. You’ll be amazed (or shocked!) at how far some fruit and veg travels to reach the shelves of our supermarkets!
Farmer’s markets, butchers, farm shops or box delivery schemes are always a good way of sourcing fresh British produce without relying on the supermarket giants, who so often don’t pay the farmers fairly. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! Farm shops and butchers support local farmers so there is much more confidence in the traceability of what you’re buying.
Supporting British farmers is something I feel passionately about championing, because they produce meat, dairy, fruit and veg to world leading standards and carry some of the highest welfare regulations in the world. So vote with your purse next time you shop by choosing British!