While we and farmers can grow most of our food in spring and summer, in winter our climate means it’s difficult to grow some foods, due to frost etc. If you would like to eat in season, you may find it difficult during around April. That’s when all the previous produce is no longer producing, and yet the new foods are not ready for harvesting. Some growers get around this by using polytunnels and greenhouses. Riverford offers a ‘British box’ and has to stop it completely for a few weeks each year, apart from offering Hungry Gap Kale:
Tuscan White Bean Kale Soup (Short Girl, Tall Order) is a one-pot dish with fresh veggies, herbs and cannellini beans for protein.
If growing your own produce, see how to make your garden safe for pets, to know toxic plants (and other items) to avoid (including kale, garlic, onion, leeks, chives, mushrooms, grapes, fruit pips & seeds, green potatoes/onions).
If you thought that the hungry gap months would be January and February, nope. It’s April, apparently. That’s when cold stores of crops like potatoes and onions run out, and there is nothing left to harvest until the summer. Some local produce that survives the winter months to look for include kale, chard, herbs and a few salad leaves, and not much else. Some crops that you may be able to find include:
- Purple-sprouting broccoli
- Wild garlic
- Spring greens
Vegan French Onion Soup (Crowded Kitchen)
To eat seasonal foods, is to eat ones that obviously grow locally. England has more than four seasons but what it does have is a hungry gap which is fairly long in the winter months. This means you either have to own a greenhouse or polytunnel (!), buy foods from those who do grow in one, or find foods out of season (unless you managed to save and freeze all the harvest).
Seasonal foods are not only better for the planet (local and organically grown), but tend to also be tastier and fresher and cheaper. And they also help to support your local farmers. No-one is suggesting not to enjoy the odd banana, but do try to eat local if possible, for most of the time. And most farm shops will only sea-freight tropical fruits, rather than have them imported by air.