i Editor's Letter: a seasonal puzzle for you all


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The Independent Online


What do the following have in common? Broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, chicory, radishes and spring onions (a big clue there). How about bananas, oranges, kiwi fruits, pomegranates, pineapple and rhubarb? Mussels, cod, hake, salmon and sea trout? Rabbit and spring lamb? Ah, what a giveaway.

One of the unspoken contributors to our ongoing food-chain horror is our loss of the seasons. We have forgotten how to buy, cook and eat seasonal produce. My apologies to those that do so religiously. But the evidence in every supermarket is that this is a generalism that's safe to make.

Sure, those supermarkets run small, timely promotions pushing products like those above. But how many of us ate any of them last week, or will do so in the next? And for how many of us will it be for the first time this year as opposed to eating them through the winter?

However, our desire to eat strawberries and lamb all year round creates a whole raft of problems, notably factory farming of the sort that sees hectare after hectare of strawberries grown in greenhouses where there was once Moroccan desert, and the issues we all know about surrounding the meat chain.

The profit-hungry supermarkets themselves will simply fill their shelves with whatever there is the most demand for. If that means Cox's apples in March, so be it. So what can be done?

Public education and small, personal steps are a start. In honour of the late, great Richard Briers' immortal Tom Good and inspired by the cultivating genius of Ma Hatfield's Croydon-grown figs, olives, artichokes and tomatoes, this year, I'm resolved to grow much more of my own. It's nearly spring at last after all: time for such flights of fancy. Let's see how far we get by June. Ah, where is Vicky Summerley when I need her?