Most of our food in the UK comes from supermarkets and big shops. These shops keep the same products on the shelves, whatever the time of year. But food is seasonal and doesn’t grow and ripen all year round. Strawberries flower in the spring and the fruit grows and ripens ready to be at its best in June and July. Apples ripen in the autumn and can be stored and eaten through most of the winter. Cabbages grow throughout the year.
Food that is available out of season is often more expensive and it may have travelled a long way to be in the shop. It also may not taste as good as food when it is in season.
Find out about when different foods are in season — check out a seasonal food calendar online. What food is at its best right now? Can you think of a super tasty seasonal meal? Is there a meal that you are looking forward to that you could eat in season at another time of the year?
Different foods might be in season in different parts of the world throughout the year. For example, summer in Australia is during the winter in the UK, and vice versa, so the sun shines in completely different months.
When we talk about food being ‘in season’ we mean in the country where you are buying it. You can buy strawberries year round in British supermarkets, but they will only be local fruit when they are in season in the UK.
A food mile is a mile over which a food item is transported during the journey from producer to consumer, as a unit of measurement of the fuel used to transport it. In order to have the lowest impact on our climate, we should buy locally where possible, reducing our food miles. This includes eating seasonal fruit and vegetables.
There are already symbols that companies use to let consumers know about their products. Do you recognise them:
Are these helpful for people when they are shopping? What could be some downsides of labelling our food like this?
If it is a good thing to eat Fairtrade or sustainable food, shouldn’t all the the food we have available be that?
Make you own label
At the moment there is no quick way for people to know which foods are in season. Try making your own label to let people know at a glance which are the seasonal foods. What imagery might indicate that a food in in season?
Or you could make a warning label to let people know that food is out of season. There are warning labels on alcohol and cigarettes as well as on foods with a lot of sugar, salt or fat. They are aimed at discouraging people from buying these products. Which label do you think would work better?
Take it further
Find out more about seasonal food from Eat the Seasons.
Take a trip around the world without leaving your kitchen and find our more about food miles with Globe trotting grub!