Seasonal, Sustainable and Student Friendly
A big part of attaining sustainability in both food production and within your own diet us to consider eating seasonally. The fruit, veg, dairy and meat sections of supermarkets look the same every week but behind this there are very distinct and various seasons to the food which we enjoy at certain times of the year. We are fortunate enough to live in a country with four very distinctive seasons, which offer us a variety of different foods year-round which can support a healthy and delicious diet. Seasonal food is often associated with locally produced food, better quality food or limited food choice and for some it is food associated with annual cultural events.
8 reasons to shop in season
- The greatest joy of eating seasonally is the opportunity to reconnect with nature's cycles, the passing of time and the tremendously diverse and delicious foods that our seasonal climate provides.
- Food in season is cheaper because you are buying it when it is in abundance and it has not travelled a long way.
- Eating seasonally reduces the energy (and associated CO2 emissions) needed to grow and transport the food we eat.
- Eating seasonal foods supports the local economy: for example, it is a bit silly to buy apples from New Zealand at the height of the English apple harvest.
- Seasonal food is fresher and so tends to be tastier and more nutritious: fresh asparagus, for example, taste more special than asparagus flown in from South America.
- Eating British fruits and vegetables in season is good for you. Foods in season contain the nutrients, minerals and trace elements that our bodies need at particular times of the year.
- Whenever a particular ingredient goes out of season, another delicious food has come back into season to tempt us all.
- Eating seasonally is about pleasure, variety and discovery!
The environmental impact of the food system is multi-dimensional, with implications for climate change (i.e. Green House Gas Emissions), water use, land use, biodiversity, soil degradation and pollution. There are very few studies available that have explored all these issues together in relation to seasonality, most have focused on GHGE in relation to climate change. GHGE are produced throughout the lifecycle of a product from production to processing, distribution, retail, consumption and waste disposal and overall the food system accounts for 20–30% of the total GHGE in the UK. One of the benefits of eating seasonal food is that it reduces GHGE because it does not require the high-energy input from artificial heating or lighting needed to produce crops out of the natural growing season.
Braised Leek Fettuccine
*for vegan diets change the chicken stock for vegetable, and the parmesan for a vegan alternative.
*for a meat diet add some UK grown chicken – check for the Red Tractor label for UK produce.
- 3 leeks
- 1 bulb of garlic
- A few sprigs of herbs – try rosemary and thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 175ml white wine
- 1 chicken or veg stock cube
- 150g pasta of choice, dried weight
- Parmesan, or cheese of choice
Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 40 min
Trim the dark leeks tops and the bottom cm or so. Cut each leek in half lengthways and give them a gentle wash, to remove any trapped soil. Cut the bulb of garlic in half so your cutting through the cloves.
Heat a little oil in a wide casserole pan that has a lid. Cook the leeks and garlic flat side down on a medium heat for a few minutes. Flip them over and cook on the other side for a couple of minutes.
Deglaze the pan by adding the wine and stock cube. Add a splash or water too, enough so the leeks are almost covered.
Add the herbs (you can leave the rosemary and thyme on their stalks) and a knob of butter. Season with a little salt and lots of black pepper. Let it reduce a little bit, then put a lid on the pan. Turn the heat right down and cook for 30 minutes or so.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. When done, drain and reserve a little of the cooking water.
Use a fork to pull apart the leeks. Stir the cooked pasta through and add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water.
Plate up and finish with a generous amount of grated Parmesan, or cheese of choice.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2008) A Framework for Pro-environmental Behaviours: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukgwa/20130402151656/http://archive.defra.gov.uk/evidence/social/behaviour/documents/behaviours-jan08-report.pdf