Winter! Thick hearty soups and warm, nourishing food is what I crave. The nights have become longer, days colder and the need for hearty food becomes a necessity.
As flus and colds seem to make their rounds more savagely over the winter months, I always like to build my immune system with nourishing food to help stave off these nasty bugs. Eating local and seasonal produce means that you are getting vitamins right from the source – the food. Organic vegetables are known to be especially nutrient-dense and environmentally friendly.
These are the fruit and vegetables that are in season at the moment and will be for most of the winter months...
Beetroot, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage – red; savoy; white, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, wild mushrooms, onions, chicory, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, salsify, shallots, swede, Swiss chard, turnips, watercress, winter squash. Apples, chestnuts, cobnuts, cranberries, oranges, clementines, grapefruit, pomegranate, persimmon, and pears. Rosemary, sage, bay leaves, thyme.
Today people are so used to having their favourite vegetables available all year round on
supermarket shelves across the globe that we have lost touch with seasonal eating. Big supermarket wholesalers are able to import food from abroad and store it in massive, chilled warehouses to prevent ageing. Often these unseasonal crops are sprayed with chemicals and waxes to delay their ripening. Seasonal food is fresher, tastier and more nutritious. Quite simply, the food is still alive. I miss the farm I used to live on where avocados quite literally fell from the trees, mangoes and fresh pecans would be gathered by us and the monkeys. This was of course the ultimate way to live and when I did live there I knew I was one of the lucky few and relished in this luxury while it lasted in that chapter of my life.
I wish I could walk away from the avocados on supermarket shelves but I just can’t. And whilst I don’t eat them every day as once I did I do purchase them now and again. And the question rises to the surface “What is the solution to living in harmony with seasons, and nature and still be living in the ever-changing world we live in now?”
Here in Europe and the UK there is an amazing scheme called Crowdfarming. An amazing set-up where one can buy directly from the farmers themselves, cutting out the supermarket corporations. Buy a few different boxes, stagger them and share them with friends and family. This creates a collaboration. You can even adopt a tree and reap the rewards in the harvest in which case you help the farmers before the season when budgets are tight and expenses are high.
Farmers use local workers and the money earned and spent is distributed locally. It’s a win-win situation and creates a circular economy keeping the money in the country and community. Here in Cornwall and rural areas of the UK, Greengrocer’s try to get their stock fresh from local farmers. Buying locally grown foods helps support local farms and maintains farmland and other open spaces in your community for not only food to be grown but all wildlife to thrive in.
Buying organic means the plant is grown in symbiosis with nature. The pests aren’t sprayed with harmful pesticides, the soil is mulched and no dig practices are more and more common. This allows for mycelium, microflora and invertebrates that live and keep soil in balanced harmony, to thrive. The produce is likely to be bursting with flavour as they have been allowed to ripen on the parent plant. These farmers have a special relationship with their land and this is evident in the produce they offer.
Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen
naturally on their parent plant. I have just ordered a box of organic clementines from Crowdfarming and am so looking forward to them. This is a great gift option too. I have sent boxes of mangoes and pawpaws to family for their birthdays and they were very well received. Many tropical fruits are grown in Sicily, Spain and Portugal. All being bread baskets of Europe.
So whilst they do need to travel, the distance is not as vast as from South America, Asia and Africa. So whilst I cannot stay away from avocados now and again I do endeavour to find more sustainable solutions to supporting a realistic footprint in my life here in the UK.