Something to celebrate

The “traditional rhythm” of cooking with the seasons is being lost because rising numbers of people fail to understand when particular fruit and vegetables should be eaten, according to research.

Fewer than one-on-10 adults know when some of the UK’s best known produce is in season, it emerged.

This is rather something to celebrate isn’t it? Technology and human ingenuity have overcome the influence of the seasons?

We don’t know when things are in season because we don’t need to know when things are in season, for they’re all available all the time.

27 comments on “Something to celebrate

  1. Marxism: I will provide plenty for all that capitalism cannot do! Vote for me, and you will live in plenty!

    Reality: Sorry Marxism, it turns out you don’t provide plenty, but instead you cause poverty and bread queues.

    Marxism: Plenty is bad for you! Vote for me to end evil capitalist plenty!

  2. This from the same people who claim that supermarkets impoverish people. Turns out we’re so well fed we’re not even connected to the seasons any more.
    IanB has it exactly right.

  3. We no longer have to gorge ourselves on the fruit & veg of the season, no longer have to spend days bottling, pickling, jam making etc to use a load of the produce before it spoils.
    We simply buy what we need when we want to have it.

  4. “Although many of the respondents could hazard a guess, very few knew the exact months that produce was in season.”

    So, it’s nonsense, then. It doesn’t tell you if people are still seasonal, just whether they know exact months. Especially as the “traditional months” aren’t any longer because of things like growing food in polytunnels and other tricks that extend the season.

  5. I find it rather quaint that somebody thinks Brits have lost a culinary skill in this area. I’ll run the idea past some Frenchmen and report back.

  6. Is Asparagus really one of the ‘UK’s best known produce’?

    Not many people know it takes 3 years to grow. I know because massive weeds grow between the rows in the meantime, and I spent a boiling hot day in the summer of ’96 shoving a rotavator up and down between the rows of asparagus in a field the size of Heathrow airport.

  7. ” because rising numbers of people fail to understand when particular fruit and vegetables should be eaten”

    When they *should* be eaten? Sez who? Fuck off and live on turnips in the winter.

  8. Tim Newman: Not many people know it takes 3 years to grow

    It takes three years between planting the crowns and harvesting the first spears. Thereafter you have asparagus every spring for about 20 years from the same plants.

    As for seasonality, there’s still a trade-off to be made between convenience and flavour if you want, say, strawberries at Christmas. I don’t – mine were excellent this year and I will look forward to next year’s by and by.

  9. “Is Asparagus really one of the ‘UK’s best known produce’?”
    Fen asparagus is pretty fine stuff. So is the asparagus in NZ, come to that. Who on earth wouldn’t enjoy such lovely tucker? Chip-on-the-shoulder inadequates, perhaps?

  10. As a bit of a foodie, I look forward to different crops coming into season. They always seem to taste better, too. And, of course, a glut results in much more reasonable prices.

    But it’s /also/ good that there should be no reason why anyone has to starve, or for that matter, live on nothing but turnips in winter. And it’s nice that if I really, really fancy something out-of-season, and don’t mind paying for it, and don’t mind putting up with it probably not being as good as when it’s in-season, I can probably get hold of it.

  11. Traditionally, you knew what was in season because that was all you had. Martin Davies has it right: the season (whatever) was spent bottling and pickling so you had someting to eat through winter and spring.

    Meanwhile, here in Yamagata, we are just finishing the watermelon season and entering the stonefruit season. To be branded as an Obanazawa watermelon, the melon needs to be perfect (skin, size, shape) and be >14% sugar content. Yum.

    Now the season is turning to plums, peaches and nectarines. All locally grown, with the individual fruit bagged on the tree prior to picking. After the stonefruit will come the apples and pears, along with the rice harvest. And the grapes, Yamagata produces good wine.

    I like it here in an agricultural prefecture: cold winters, hot summers. Fertile volcanic soil with plenty of sun and rain. If you want to know what season it is, check out the largesse left inside the front door by farming neighbours.

    And the rivers are jumping with fish. Did I mention that? Or the skiing?

  12. Things may indeed be available all year round, but for example my bugbear is tomatoes. The hard tasteless inedible imported versions offered by the supermarkets as their basic tomatoes are frankly an abomination and in my view probably breach the trades descriptions act and the sale of goods act as not fit for purpose. There is no comparison with a local seasonal ripe tomato.

  13. Earlier this year, experts recommended that current recommendations for all men and women to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables should be increased to seven to cut the risk of dying from cancer and heart disease.

    From the same paper (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10735609/Keep-the-five-a-day-message-for-better-health-it-works.html)

    But a change to increase the current 5-a-day message to 7 or more a day on the basis of this study is not warranted. There is no strong evidence for such a change, and the suggestion by some quarters to consider changing the message to 10-a-day is simply not supported by the data.

    There must be a form of Kip’s law in there somewhere. Those advocating we stick to local in season food, always, but always, imagine they will be at the front of the queue when the crops fail.

  14. To those complaining about the taste and general quality of out-of-season produce, take a leaf out of my book: when I don’t like something, I don’t by it!

    I don’t starve, there is always something I do like thanks to Tesco and its supply and distribution techniques.

  15. Ironman: When I don’t like something, I don’t buy it!

    Sound plan.

    What baffles about out-of-season availability is who buys winter vegetables in the summer.

    I can’t sat that I’m sorry to see the last of my leeks and parsnips at the start of spring but blow me down if these things don’t then appear in the supermarket in high summer.

  16. As a moron with little or no appreciation of the finer things, I’m likely to be that idiot buying out – of – season vegetables. But that’s my choice; try telling me what I should buy.

  17. Ironman: But that’s my choice; try telling me what I should buy.

    Why should I do that? – it’s entirely your business.

    By the same token, it’s entirely my affair if I’m puzzled by a choice that strikes me as being perhaps a little perverse but you are of course welcome to it.

  18. The idea of a season is utter shite. The world’s biggest producer of kiwi fruit is Italy. The second biggest is New Zealand. Even if kiwis have a season, between them that’s all year round. Kiwis don’t grow very well in England, I assume, so if you eat them at all they’re imported. So who gives a fuck if you can buy them in December and August?

  19. BiCR: The idea of a season is utter shite

    You’d have to be quite aloof to the natural world and immune to the pleasures of the table to think so.

  20. No-one who knew me would describe me as aloof to the pleasures of the table. The point is that if we reject the idiotic locavore nonsense then the idea of there being a fixed time of year when we have to eat certain foodstuffs while others are unavailable is, as I state, utter shite. Nostalgic, Luddite, sepia-tinted shite.

  21. The researchers may not be aware that much of what we eat nowadays is not local, and was not previously available. Today’s variety is tremendous.

    I’m aware that parsnips have a period of increasing quality, and lowered cost, as with cauliflowers, and also know that strawberries aren’t native everywhere for a reason.

    I’m a but shaky on pea aubergines and lemongrass though.

  22. The Meissen Bison

    I am though absolutely certain that you have impeccable taste my friend. Mine is improving, slowly.

  23. BiCR: we may be at cross-purposes here because I am being the least prescriptive. I wouldn’t contest for a moment that you can eat imported Chinese gooseberries in the UK at any time of year or that avocado pears will always be imported.

    I have no difficulty with you buying (as though in the UK rather than Costa Rica) expensive soft fruit or dwarf beans or mange-tout peas in winter. All these things are possible now.

    But oysters are best avoided in August and grouse may legally be shot in a few hours from now and there is a reason for these things too which technology may overcome as well in time though on my account it needn’t bother.

    I like seasons, I like growing things and eating them and these are simple pleasures which make sense to simple people and provide continuity.

  24. Oops – missing negative:
    I am being the least prescriptive

    should read
    I am not being the least prescriptive

  25. rising numbers of people fail to understand when particular fruit and vegetables should be eaten

    “Should”? Says who? Are best or cheapest would be fine. But should sticks in my craw.

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