Local? Seasonal? Organic? Non-GM? Not to mention low-fat? Low-carb? Low-GI?
Eating seems to be getting trickier than ever. We've been doing it for thousands and thousands of years, and yet we're told we're doing it all wrong. Obesity levels are skyrocketing, and experts are coming out of the woodwork to tell us what we should and shouldn't be eating.
Admittedly, I suppose I'm one of those so-called experts. Although now that I'm a Registered Dietitian, with a B.Sc. under my belt, I feel more underqualified then ever. Nutrition is not an exact science, and it can be quite a minefield. Of course I think my degree has given me an advantage, but mostly it has given me the tools to use my scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills to analyze the mass of information we are bombarded with.
One thing I do try to promote and feel quite strongly about is real food, from real ingredients. I shudder when things have ingredients I can't pronounce, and balk at ingredient lists miles long. Admittedly, they can be necessary evils - and sometimes, they are just the trick. I did steal a piece or two of Haribo Tangfastic from T today, and I'm still alive to talk about it.
I just try not to make it an everyday occurence. I think that's a step in the right direction. I'm obviously lucky that I am still mostly at home during the days and can devote more time to cooking than the average working parent. Healthy eating takes planning and time. It doesn't come easy, but it is rewarding.
It is also important to realize that it doesn't always have to be a burden. We make roast dinners on Sundays when we can, but also often make lightning-speed omelets and salads on busier weeknights. The old adage is true: many hands make for light work. Get the family involved as much as possible to speed up your prep time.
I have gotten slightly off-track here because what I really wanted to talk to you about is eating seasonally. This is part of my plan to return our kitchen to simple, real food. Why seasonal? Why not local? Or organic? I think seasonal is the first part of the puzzle, and often comes hand it hand with local. I believe food tastes best when it is picked at its prime. This also tends to optimize nutritional profiles. Most people do it instinctively. A January tomato never tastes, or looks quite the same as an August one. Same for summer berries. Yet every week I see the punnets of strawberries at my local supermarket, and those sad-looking peaches.
As part of my experiment I will also buy local, or as close to local as possible. For example, potatoes are in season right now. I am seeking out British grown potatoes. So these would be seasonal and local. However, citrus fruit are also in season in February. If I had the choice, I would buy British. However, this is not possible. England just doesn't have the climate. A locavore would tell me to skip the citrus, and buy British rhubarb. I'm not quite there yet, so I picked Spanish clementines this week, as they had reduced food miles compared to the Florida oranges I also saw.
All this to say I'm making an effort. It's not perfect, as purists should be buying organic, locally grown seasonal produce. Maybe one day I will forgo citrus, bananas and pineapple, but for now I'm just trying to buy fruits, vegetables, fish and meat when they're at their best. Eating with mother earth, not fighting her.
Part of my journey will be to post at the beginning of every month a list of what is growing right now, in the UK. Writing this list will help keep me in the loop about what I should be looking for at my greengrocers and local market. Hopefully you will keep an eye on it too and help use it to guide your purchases. I'm not sure how obvious the change will be on this blog, but I will strive to keep posts seasonal, and my shopping local, when possible.
Thank you for indulging my Sunday morning rant, and without further ado, here is what's growing, in February, in the UK.
What's in season (February)
(With recipe ideas linked, when possible)
Sources: The BBC and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Meat and Fish
Hare (Hmm... no recipes in my repertoire, maybe it's time I tried it?)
Mussels (Which are on the menu for Valentine's Day)
Brussels sprouts and tops
Broccoli (purple sprouting)
Beetroot (aka beets)
Celeriac (aka celery root) (Picked one up yesterday! Hopefully will be posting a recipe soon, if it works out)
Swede (aka Rutabaga)
Winter greens (chard, chicory, kale)
Lemons (I was just thinking of making my lemon yogurt cake this week when I saw that lemons are seasonal. And apparently, I made it this time last year as well. How odd.)
Pears (Which reminds me... I need to get the recipe for T's Dad's stewed pears... Yum!)
Rhubarb (I'm still kind of surprised that British rhubarb can be forced to grow at this time of the year, while Canada is still under a thick blanket of snow, but I'll take it!)
Note. Since I am currently living in London, I gave you a list of what is seasonal in the UK. A quick google search will likely guide you in the right direction of what is growing right now in your neck of the woods.