The next time a body-conscious girlie cuts you up in the gym, you can secretly blame her for the latest flurry of flower-infused foods on offer in the shops. It's her penchant for calorie-counting, mineral water and aromatherapy that has inspired it, after all.

The next time a body-conscious girlie cuts you up in the gym, you can secretly blame her for the latest flurry of flower-infused foods on offer in the shops. It's her penchant for calorie-counting, mineral water and aromatherapy that has inspired it, after all.

Supermarket buyers are as susceptible as fashion editors to changing trends, and if they think we are all into flowers, herbs and natural essences, then that's what we will get to eat and drink. Fat-inducing chocolate fudge pudding is out, peach and jasmine jelly with nectarine is in.

Susi Richards, selector for dairy desserts and ice creams at Marks & Spencer, is responsible for the retailer's latest blossoming of flower-infused foods. "We've seen a return to homoeopathic remedies and herbal elements in cosmetics," she says, "so it seemed a natural step to incorporate floral flavourings and herbs into our food products."

Having successfully introduced a wide range of flavoured waters into M&S stores, she's now devised jellies with similar properties to act as a pretty, low-calorie indulgence; they have two-thirds less fat than the average low-fat yogurt. Research has apparently revealed that a translucent mauve (very au courant) blackcurrant-and-lavender jelly with some colour-co-ordinated mauve grapes and a sprig of dill suspended in it is what every weight-watching woman wants. Men do not seem to figure in this area of development.

Other supermarkets remain, for now, at the flowery-drinks stage. Safeway has just launched its very sweet but unsweetened Lightly Sparkling Elderflower & Lemon Spring Water, and Waitrose has, among other things, an Apple & Hawthorn Lightly Sparkling Spring Water, with an intriguing green wood flavour from the hawthorn bark extract, and a Gooseberry & Elderflower Refresher. According to Nigel Sharp, drinks buyer at Waitrose, hedgerow flavourings appeal to his country-loving customers.

Such fashions are welcomed by Steve Pearce, managing director of Britannia Natural Products, a company producing the floral extracts increasingly in demand from food manufacturers. "The British have always used floral extracts in their food and drink," he says. "Cooks have used distilled rose or orange-flower water in their puddings for centuries, while many traditional drinks contain floral extracts. For example, although the recipe for Pimm's is a secret, it very probably includes violet and gentian."

Unknown to us, minuscule amounts of flower essences are added to many foods. "They are often used in a subliminal way," says Mr Pearce. "A drop of violet in raspberries will imbue them with a deeper, more complex flavour. Add a hint of elderflower to a drink and you will taste the champagne top-note."

We could all use a few petals here and there for cooking at home; a sprig of lavender or a sprinkling of elderflowers adds a heavenly fragrance to a custard or fruit syrup. But will the supermarkets' affection for flowers last beyond the end of summer? Before then there's rose-and-raspberry jelly to come from M&S - it's convinced that the time is ripe for a supposedly healthy feast of flowers.

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