SUSTAINABLE LIVING

Seasonal produce calendar: When to eat British fruits and vegetables to reduce climate impact

Trying to eat seasonally but can’t remember your cherries from your chicory, Sophie Gallagher dives into the best months of the year for British produce

Monday 08 February 2021 09:44
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W

hen we think about the relationship between the food on our plate and the environment it can feel like there are many factors to take into consideration: 2018 research from the University of Oxford found going vegan was the “single biggest way” to reduce our individual carbon footprints. Sounds simple enough? But it isn’t quite that straight forward.

Other studies, like the “How Low Can We Go?” report from WWF, found that soy-based proteins like tofu, or soy milk, are not automatically low emissions just because they don’t contain animal-based products, and it says the soybean industry can cause problems such as “widespread deforestation and displacement of small farmers and indigenous peoples around the globe”.

Perhaps then it is about both eating fewer animal products and sourcing them locally? Thereby avoiding the destruction of ecosystems on the other side of the planet, and the carbon output caused by flying or shipping food to your plate from around the world. But experts say just because something is grown in Britain, doesn’t make it low carbon either.

In his book Climate-Smart Food, Dave Reay, from the University of Edinburgh, found growing lettuce near London in the wrong season was worse in terms of carbon contributions than flying it in from Europe because of the intensity required to beat the wrong climate we have most of the year in Britain.

So it’s clear seasonality is another factor to take into consideration when we’re deciding what to take from the shelves. But how do we know what is in season, and when?

The Vegetarian Society has compiled a list of the produce in season in Britain all year round to help you make more informed decisions when you’re at the shop.

January

Fruit: Apples, Pears

Vegetables: Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Red Cabbage, Salsify, Savoy Cabbage, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Squash, Swedes, Turnips, White Cabbage

February

Fruit: Apples, Pears

Vegetables: Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Celeriac, Chicory, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Red Cabbage, Salsify, Savoy Cabbage, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Squash, Swedes, White Cabbage

March

Fruits: Cucumber

Vegetables: Artichoke, Beetroot, Carrots, Chicory, Leeks, Parsnip, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radishes, Rhubarb, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Watercress

April

Vegetables: Artichoke, Beetroot, Carrots, Chicory, New Potatoes, Kale, Morel Mushrooms, Parsnips, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Watercress

May

Fruits: Strawberries, Peppers, Chillies

Vegetables: Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Chicory, Lettuce, Marrow, New Potatoes, Peas, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Sweetheart Cabbage, Watercress

Other: Elderflowers

June

Fruits: Blackcurrants, Cherries, Chillies, Cucumber, Gooseberries, Peppers, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries, Tayberries

Vegetables: Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Chicory, Courgettes,  Lettuce, Marrow, New Potatoes, Peas, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Sweetheart Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Watercress

Other: Elderflowers 

July

Fruits: Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Cherries, Chillies, Cucumber, Gooseberries, Greengages, Loganberries, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries,

Vegetables: Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chicory, Courgettes, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kohlrabi, New Potatoes, Onions, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Sweetheart Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress

August

Fruits: Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Cherries, Chillies, Cucumber, Damsons, Greengages, Loganberries, Peppers, Plums, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries, Tomatoes

Vegetables: Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chicory, Courgettes, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mangetout, Marrow, Mushrooms, Parsnips, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Sweetcorn, Sweetheart Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Watercress, White Cabbage

September

Fruits: Blackberries, Chillies, Cucumber, Damsons, Peppers, Plums, Raspberries, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Pears

Vegetables: Aubergine, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Courgettes, Chicory, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mangetout, Marrow, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Red Cabbage, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Sweetcorn, Sweetheart Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Watercress, Wild Mushrooms, White Cabbage

October

Fruits: Apples, Blackberries, Chillies, Cucumber, Elderberries, Pears, Quince, Tomatoes

Vegetables: Aubergine, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Courgette, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Marrow, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Red Cabbage, Rocket, Runner Beans, Salsify, Savoy Cabbage, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Swede, Sweetcorn, Sweetheart Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Watercress, Wild Mushrooms, Winter Squash, White Cabbage

Other: Chestnuts

November

Fruits: Apples, Cranberries, Elderberries, Pears, Quince

Vegetables: Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chestnuts, Chicory, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Red Cabbage, Salsify, Savoy Cabbage, Swede, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Watercress, Wild Mushrooms, Winter Squash, White Cabbage.

December

Fruit: Apples, Cranberries, Pears, Quince

Vegetables: Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Red Cabbage, Salsify, Savoy Cabbage, Swede, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Watercress, Winter Squash, White Cabbage.

Other: Chestnuts

List reproduced with permission from The Vegetarian Society

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