A new poll has revealed that less than half (44%) of Brits know when some of the UK’s most well-known fruit and vegetables are in season, and supermarkets do little to help.
Eating seasonally means to eat foods that are naturally ready to harvest at the same time of year that you are eating them.
As a nation, we’ve gotten used to having whatever food we want at any time of the year.
The problem is that getting out-of-season produce to the UK means flying it in from overseas, or employing agriculturally-intensive farming methods, such as using pesticides and fertilisers, to force them to grow year-round.
Food that travels far is also often wrapped in a lot of plastic packaging to avoid it being damaged in transit.
So, eating locally produced seasonal food is not only tastier and healthier, but better for our environment too.
Despite this, new research from the UK & Ireland Mushroom Producers – a partnership between British and Irish farmers – has found that just 31% of Brits shop seasonably, with a further 44% confessing they are “clueless” on when their favourite fruit and vegetables are in season.
When questioned, 17% believe British and Irish mushrooms are only grown at home during the autumn – when in fact, are available 365 days a year.
15% think potatoes are only picked during the summer months, but like the humble fungi, are available all year-round.
It also seems consumers are confused about what fruit and vegetables can be grown at home.
Almost one in three of the 2,000 adults polled think trendy avocados can be grown in the UK and Ireland, however, are only available when internationally sourced.
Noel Hegarty, spokesperson for the UK & Ireland Mushroom Producers says on the subject, “Each year, less fruit and vegetables eaten in the country are UK and Irish grown.”
The partnership believes supermarkets need to better support UK food production or risk future supply disruption.
“Despite there being enough British and Irish mushrooms available to fulfil the nation’s needs, some supermarkets still source internationally – and we’re not the only category to experience this.”
Since the onset of Coronavirus, staying healthy has become imperative, and one way to get essential vitamins whilst remaining indoors is by eating five a day.
Knowing what is in season and choosing locally sourced produce also means shoppers can be sure to pack in the most nutrients, as those which have travelled fewer miles will be fresher and of higher quality.
However, there is appetite for change. According to the data, 63% of those surveyed stated they would shop seasonally in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint.
In response, The UK & Ireland Mushroom Producers has released the Seasonal Vegetable League Table, which illustrates that understanding seasonality, and how far food travels can make eating freshly grown, locally sourced vegetables achievable.
Using the nation’s 10 most popular vegetables, the Seasonal Vegetable League Table highlights how two in five (40%) everyday veggies are available all year round. From mushrooms to potatoes to carrots and even green leaves, eating seasonally can deliver an array of healthy options.
With plant-based consumption continuing to rise and over 60% of shoppers actively looking to eat more vegetable-based meals on a weekly basis, the Seasonal Vegetable League Table will help people consume more consciously.
Hegarty adds: “Understanding seasonal eating can help when buying the freshest, most nutritious vegetables, a little closer to home. The Seasonal Vegetable League Table brings to life just where our vegetables come from, when out of season and helps people support local farmers who produce high quality veg right on your doorstep. Swap your Sunday morning smashed avocado for some delicious mushrooms and not only support local businesses but play a part in reducing your carbon footprint by choosing lower food mile options.”
The Seasonal Vegetable Table has been created to help educate consumers on when the nation’s favourite vegetables are in season as well as the impact shopping closer to home has on our carbon footprint, as well as supporting local suppliers along the way. The Table is available to download at www.mushroommiles.com.