The idea of eating local and seasonal food sounds like a good idea, right? But just what is it about these two factors that make them good for us and the planet? At the core of our beliefs at Farmdrop is the conviction that buying more seasonal food from local producers has huge benefits for you and the environment. Here we give you the lowdown on exactly why that is.
As the issue of climate change continues to be at the forefront of the nation’s psyche, it’s becoming increasingly clear that how our food is made and where it comes from is irrevocably intertwined with the environment. In a recent survey by OnePoll, 65% of us would like to buy more British produce and many are seeking alternative eco-friendly models. One of those is supporting British farmers by buying food that’s local and in season. With increasing uncertainty around the future of agriculture after Brexit (where the price of imports could increase) and our foreign food supply (remember the vegetable shortage of 2017?), discussions on local and seasonal food seem more pertinent than ever.
Food really is a beautiful thing. It reflects our environment and culture right back at us. It gives us energy and the opportunity to meet and share with the people we love. And it really makes us happy.
Here are five reasons why eating local and seasonal food is good for you (and the planet too):
1. It tastes better
English asparagus is in season in spring: the sooner it’s eaten after harvest, the better it tastes.
Does anything compare to the taste of a berry you’ve picked yourself or the scent of tomatoes growing in your grandad’s greenhouse? Quality produce that’s grown locally and holistically with the environment, with love and care, that’s been freshly harvested and is in season undoubtedly tastes better than an equivalent that was picked days before embarking on a journey from South Africa.
Asparagus, for example, is in season now in the UK and tastes sweeter and more delicious than any imports you can get the rest of the year. Why? All the precious natural sugars found in the plant start to convert to starch as soon as they’re cut from the ground. So the longer they spend getting to your kitchen, the less sweet they become. Seasonal, local asparagus really is best.
2. It costs you less…
Tomatoes are in season throughout the summer. Make the most of a glut with these top tips.
Due to the laws of supply and demand, a British tomato bought in peak harvest season in August will cost less than one bought in January. When there’s high availability, prices dip. Yet the rate of a change in price depends on the success of a seasonal crop, which in turn is heavily dependent on location and the weather. Which brings us to…
3. It costs the planet less too
Farmdrop’s founder Ben Pugh with Pete Richardson from Westmill Organics. Strawberries are in season in June.
Approximately 70% of the UK is farmland. Locally grown food harvested at the peak of its freshness and at the height of its season are more likely to have experienced less artificial intervention to grow. It’s reported that climate change can’t be halted if our soils continue to be degraded but there are small-scale farmers working to produce food in a way that looks to actually enhance the quality of soil.
Take Pete Richardson (pictured, right). He has been growing organic vegetables at Westmill Farm in Wiltshire for around 20 years and the fertility now built up in his fields produces abundant crops and encourages an amazing diversity of wildlife.
Chemical-intensive crop farming, on the other hand, is said to be the reason behind the loss for up to a foot of soil in parts of Southern England and it’s reported East Anglia is at risk of becoming a dried up ‘dust-bowl’.
4. It supports the local economy
One of the orchards at Brogdale Fine Fruits in Faversham, Kent. Apples are in season in the autumn.
While a globalised food distribution system has undoubted advantages, it also encourages farms to become large-scale factory-like enterprises to succeed. Size becomes vital to reach a mass of scale required for farmers to survive in an industrialised system. Buying local foods supports local producers that don’t have means (or wants) to become a mega-farm. In turn, it’s these producers who are able to rely on more natural methods, such as organic or biodynamic practices that work in union with a surrounding environment, not in spite of it. Read more here on how Farmdrop supports small, local farmers to use the most sustainable methods.
5. It helps you stay healthy
Knowing which foods are in season should be simple, but it’s become increasingly tricky. Research by the BBC revealed that less than one-in-10 adults in the UK know when some of our best produce – broad beans and blackberries for example – are in season. This is in addition to almost a third of UK primary pupils thinking cheese is made from plants, said a survey by the British Nutrition Foundation.
Buying local foods in season is an easy way to get a better understanding of provenance – discovering what can be grown in the UK and when. Eating with the seasons is also an effortless route to introducing some variety into your diet and helping you to hit that all-important 5-a-day. So, what are you waiting for?
Want to know how to eat seasonally? Check out the best food in season right now here at farmdrop.com. Find seasonal recipes here, and for a brilliant resource, eattheseasons.co.uk will help you find out what’s in season throughout the year.