Summer of seasonal eating

This year’s staycations are a great opportunity to make the most of the abundance of British produce and make a few climate-friendly eating tweaks to your diet, writes Becky Blench.

August is a busy time for growers, but the holiday season usually means that, although fields and greenhouses are overflowing with produce, there is a dip in the market for them at this time every year. With most of us staycationing this year, now is a great opportunity to have a low-impact August. 

One of the main reasons real food may get ditched at this time may simply be for convenience, but eating on the go can be a more eco-friendly affair that makes the most of a stunning array of produce; part of our days out, rather than something we ‘grab and go’ or rush to fit in.

Burger kits
Staycations mean more time to enjoy the best of British seasonal eating this summer. 

Seasonal eating helps you focus on and really enjoy the incredible variety grown in the UK. At the peak of their season now, cucumbers, radish, spring onions and sugar snap peas add crunch to easily assembled leafy salads or work extremely well on the BBQ, as do dazzlingly bright yellow Zephyr courgettes. 

Tomatoes and basil bring sweetness and aromatic Mediterranean scent, but grow wonderfully at the height of British summer in unheated polytunnels, while jewel-bright redcurrants, raspberries and strawberries make for a delectable dessert. 

Pavlova
Make the most of summer bounties of rhubarb and fresh berries.

As the most fruitful period of the veg calendar, the so-called ‘summer flush’ is the perfect time to make a few climate-friendly eating tweaks to your diet:

1. Eat a plateful that has created fewer food miles, filled with huge amounts of flavour, by choosing zero air freight.

2. Curious about trying a more plant-based diet? Abundant produce makes it easy to explore and integrate more into your diet – seek out slow-grown organic fruit and veg for the best flavour as you do so.

3. Follow the rhythm of the year. Dr (and author) Jenny Goodman advises that the cycle of the year supports a healthy diet and can help you reduce the impact of your diet, so from June – August when seasonal produce is at its height in Britain, she suggests you could easily eat a predominantly vegan diet.

4. Focus on provenance, exploring what is local to you. Connect to your local environment though seeing what you can grow in a planter or your garden, try foraging, check out a farmers’ market, join an allotment group or veg box scheme. 

5. Seek out simplicity. On holiday, the simplest food is often the best. The scent of a bowl of fruit drizzled with local honey, a perfectly ripe tomato with a chunk of bread and some olive oil, chargrilled sweetcorn cobs; warmer weather and food picked at its peak makes for magic on your plate. 

6. On these long evenings claim some much needed sunlight after work, find a green space or sunny spot (however small), enjoy eating outdoors and savour the summer.

Barbeque sweetcorn with burnt lime and sea salt

BBQ

Serves 4  |  35 minutes 
(prep time 20 mins, cooking time 15 mins)
Sweet, sour, smoky and very moreish – a great one for cooking on the beach, enjoyed with a cold beer.

4 sweetcorn cobs with the husk still on
2 limes
pinch of brown sugar
butter
flaky sea salt

Method

Fire up the barbecue. Soak the sweetcorn cobs in cold water for 20 minutes. Throw the cobs on the barbecue and cook for about 15 minutes, turning frequently. The husks will burn but you should be left with perfect smoky corn underneath.
Cut the limes in half, sprinkle the cut side with a little sugar and rub it in with your thumb until dissolved. Press the lime on to the bars of the barbecue until lightly caramelised. 
Peel back the husks to create a convenient handle. Butter each corn cob generously, then squeeze and rub burnt lime over it and sprinkle with salt.

This article was originally published in the Wicked Leeks summer 2021 issue. You can read the full magazine for free on Issuu here.

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