For preceding generations, each passing season brought a new harvest of different fruit and vegetables. Our diets would adjust to match the season; lighter foods in spring and summer, and heartier, comfort foods in the winter.
There is little doubt that we have now become completely accustomed to seasonless eating. Increasingly disconnected from our food, how it’s made, or when it’s harvested, we expect a huge variety of foods to be available all year around.
Seasonal eating is essentially buying, cooking and eating produce at a time of year when it is naturally ready for harvest. For example, getting your rhubarb in March, savouring some strawberries in June and tucking into some tomatoes in September. Seasonal eating is a simple concept, yet it has been complicated by our globalised food system, in which food is shipped across the world to meet rising consumer demand.
The easiest way to eat seasonally is to buy local, visit your nearest farmer’s market and immerse yourself in the produce that is grown on your doorstep. If you are living in an urban area and do not have access to a local farmers market, supporting Irish producers in the supermarkets is a great way to go season.
Grow Your Own
Grow your own veggies and you will always have fresh, in season food. You do not need a large garden or a green house. A back yard, a balcony, or a windowsill and a little bit of sunlight can produce remarkable and delicious results.
Growing herbs on your windowsill is a great way for beginners to start growing their own food, chives, parsley, dill, fennel and mint work well and are very low maintenance. You will find that once these flavourful ingredients are within reaching distance of your prep area you will add them to your dishes. Including fresh coriander in a curry, fresh basil with a tomato and mozzarella salad or chopped chives and a knob of butter on boiled potatoes, is a simple way to refresh the everyday! Additionally, hydrate with a mint tea or relax with a delicious mint mojito made with your home-grown mint. You can never have too many herbs, and even if you do, you can use them up by making a delicious pesto!
Courgettes, tomatoes, cucumbers and beetroot grow well in plant pots during the Irish summer. Growing your own is truly rewarding and will give you a newfound appreciation and understanding for food and the farmers that grown it.
Shop local and Support Irish Producers
Ireland’s mild, wet climate means that we have a long growing season for many vegetables, with cauliflower, beetroot and cabbage available almost all year round. Irish fruit and berries are a lot more seasonal and often only available for a few months over the summer.
See the Bord Bia Best in Season calendar to help you eat seasonally.
Shopping locally and buying Irish produce helps reduces greenhouse emissions, as your food travels fewer miles to get to your plate, while also supporting local family businesses and farms. Eating seasonal produce is when food is most nutritious (and delicious!).
Fruit and vegetables that are shipped long distances are often picked before they fully ripen; losing nutrients by the time we consume them. Additionally, many large supermarkets dump food that does not meet cosmetic standards after its long transit across the globe. Shopping locally and buying Irish produce can significantly reduce this food waste, as food grown and consumed locally is part of a shorter supply chain therefore limiting the possibility of spoilage during transit. See stopfoodwaste.ie for more tips.