A Month-by-Month Guide to Seasonal Eating

Fresh fruit and vegetables

Seasonal eating means buying and cooking fresh food that is at its best at a particular time of year. Of course, most of us would struggle to be without bananas and other foods that can’t be produced in the UK, are grateful for the vast choice we have and find it important to support Fair Trade producers. However, there are still many reasons to try and eat more seasonally when it comes to the produce we can grow over here.

After sharing these seasonal eating motivations, we list what’s in season with a rough month-by-month guide to fruit and vegetables in the UK. Remember that the seasonal periods can change slightly each year due to the weather and many local foods can be stored to be eaten later.

Reasons to Eat with the Seasons

1. Fewer food miles

Eating food that can grow naturally at a certain time of the year in the UK can help to reduce food miles. While it’s claimed that meat and dairy farming produces higher CO2 than food miles, it’s still worth looking for a local alternative where possible.

2. Best Taste and Higher nutritional value

As locally grown seasonal produce is harvested at the optimum time and eaten sooner, it’s often more nutritious.

Senior nutrition scientist for the British Nutrition Foundation, Ayela Spiro, explains that fresh fruit and vegetables “can spend weeks or even months in transit; refrigerated lorries and chiller cabinets slow down the spoiling of produce rather than preventing it.” Eating or freezing produce soon after it’s picked can help maintain nutrients and taste. However, older fruit can still be put to good use and edible food should not be wasted.

3. Support local producers

In 2012, the government reported that just 23% of the fruit and vegetables bought were produced on home soil. Of course, we can’t produce everything in the UK, but eating seasonally helps to support local producers and celebrate British ingredients, while helping more money to be invested back into the local area.

4. Creative cooking

There are many reasons to cook from scratch, including slowing down and enjoying a mindful activity after a busy day, placing more importance on family mealtimes and eating fresher, less processed foods. Eating seasonally encourages creativity in terms of trying new recipes and new ingredients.


What’s in Season in the UK?

January:

  • Beetroot, potatoes, kale, celeriac, brussel sprouts, leeks, swedes, turnips, shallots, parsnips
  • Apples, pears

February:

  • Potatoes, kale, celeriac, brussel sprouts, leeks, swedes, turnips, parsnips, shallots
  • Apples, pears

March:

  • Purple sprouting broccoli, spring onions, spinach, shallots, leeks, cauliflower, celeriac
  • Rhubarb

April:

  • Spring carrots, Spring cabbage, Jersey new potatoes, leeks, spinach, spring onions, cauliflower
  • Rhubarb

May:

  • Asparagus, spinach, new potatoes, rocket, spring onions, watercress
  • Rhubarb

June:

  • Asparagus, new potatoes, courgettes, green beans, salad leaves, mangetout, watercress, samphire, aubergines, spinach, peas, peppers, carrots
  • Strawberries, cherries, gooseberries, rhubarb

July:

  • Broad beans, peas, green beans, garlic, cucumbers, lettuces, salad leaves, watercress, mangetout, carrots
  • Strawberries, black, red and white currants, raspberries, gooseberries, cherries, blueberries

August:

  • Courgettes, tomatoes, peppers, sweetcorn, potatoes, cucumber, carrots, watercress, carrots, broad beans
  • Plums, cherries, melons, apricots

September:

  • Salad leaves, tomatoes, sweetcorn, beetroot, cauliflower
  • Plums, figs, grapes, melons, blackberries, apples, wild sloes, elderberries

October:

  • Mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage, marrows, squashes, potatoes, young turnips, wild mushrooms
  • Apples (eating and cooking), pears, sweet chestnuts, hazelnuts

November

  • Carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, beetroots, turnips, parsnips, celeriac, leeks, wild mushrooms
  • Apples, pears, quinces, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, chestnuts

December

  • Brussels sprouts, leeks, swedes, curly kale, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, pumpkin, chard, spinach
  • Apples, pears, quinces, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, chestnuts

Find more inspiration on sustainability.

35 Sustainable Swaps for a More Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

Sustainable swaps: string shopping bag

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” – Anna Lappé , advocate for a sustainable and fair food system.

This quote reminds us that one of the most powerful tools we have as consumers is our purchasing power.

Research by Ethical Consumer indicates that we’ve already started to realise this power. Between 2016 and 2017 the not-for-profit organisation reported a 10.8% rise in ethical cosmetics sales and similar rise of 10.1% in sales of household items that were bought for re-use.

Yet thought-provoking stats and predictions, such as the estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish, remind us that we still have a long way to go, on an individual and societal level.

35 Sustainable Swaps to Lessen Your Environmental Impact

  1. Beeswax wraps instead of cling film
  2. Paper, bamboo or metal straws
  3. Reusable shopping bags
  4. Reusable travels mugs
  5. Fabric napkins instead of disposable napkins
  6. Reusable water bottle
  7. Plastic-free tea bags or opt for loose leaf tea
  8. Packaging or plastic-free bars of soap
  9. Silicone baking mats instead of baking paper or foil
  10. Buying fruit and vegetables without packaging
  11. Paper tape instead of sticky tape
  12. Reusable make-up remover pads
  13. Bulk buy dry goods at zero waste shops
  14. Reusable dryer balls
  15. Recycled toilet roll
  16. Natural toothpaste
  17. Coconut husk scourers for washing up
  18. Biodegradable dog waste bags
  19. Metal safety razor
  20. LED bulbs
  21. Buy in-season from local markets
  22. Use recyclable wrapping paper or newspaper
  23. Go paperless for utility and other bills
  24. Biodegradable earbuds
  25. Plastic-free dental floss
  26. Reusable nail varnish remover pads
  27. Organic cotton bedding and towels
  28. Fair trade clothing or buy at vintage and charity shops
  29. Plastic-free shampoo and conditioner bars
  30. Rechargeable batteries
  31. Reusable cupcake cases
  32. Bamboo toothbrushes
  33. Stainless steel wire pegs instead of plastic
  34. Glass food containers
  35. Upcycled furniture

These are just some of the sustainable swaps you can make to reduce waste and lessen your environmental impact. Many of these swaps are very easy to implement and the reusable nature of some products may also save you money in the long run!


Find more inspiration for sustainable living.

The Link Between Slow Living and Sustainability

Slow Living and Sustainability: slowly art print

Founded by Carlo Petrini in the 1980s, the slow food movement began as a reaction to the perceived threat to Italian culinary traditions after the planned opening of a McDonald’s in the heart of Rome. Over thirty years later, the slow living movement encompasses more than food, but the ethos remains the same; living faster is not always the optimum.

Progress is often measured by efficiency and convenience. And as consumers, we’ve become accustomed to both the speed and choice which comes with such progress. Many of life’s answers (fact-checked, or not) are only a Google away. Global news floods our smartphones as it happens. Our supermarkets stock fresh produce from around the world, regardless of the season. We can order measured-out meal kits or simply throw a ready-meal in the microwave.

Rather than seeing these developments purely as ways to simplify our lives, the slow living movement suggests they can also complicate them. Instead of making conscious decisions, we find ourselves on auto-pilot and consuming without really reflecting on the impact of our choices.

Speaking to the Independent now a decade ago, Petrini claimed, “The idea of the modern has been superseded; the challenge today is to return to the small scale, the handmade, to local distribution – because today what we call ‘modern’ is out of date.”

“…today what we call ‘modern’ is out of date.”

Carlo Petrini, founder of the slow food movement

Petrini’s statement was a reaction to our culture of convenience. Today, it is more pertinent than ever, reminding us how we passively consume, whether that’s social media on our smartphones or single-use packaging.


How slowing down can help you live more sustainably

Approximately 90.5% of plastic waste produced has never been recycled. This estimate revealed in the journal Science Advances was dubbed The Royal Statistical Society’s statistic of the year for 2018. Their choice reflects the growing conversation around waste from single-use plastics and the importance of tackling our throwaway culture.

A recent UN report on single-use plastics highlighted some further sobering facts:

  • In 2015, plastic packaging waste amounted to 47% of all plastic waste produced globally.
  • It’s estimated that we consume between one and five trillion plastic bags a year – five trillion bags equates to almost 10 million bags per minute and if laid flat, this quantity would cover an area twice the size of France.
  • Styrofoam containers (which also reportedly contain carcinogenic materials) can take over 1,000 years to decompose.
  • By 2050, it’s estimated that 99% of marine birds will have ingested plastic.
  • It costs approximately €630 million per year to clean up Europe’s beaches and shores.

While governments work on improving waste management systems and consider bans and levies on certain plastic items, the UN highlights the importance of policy makers to raise public awareness and change consumer behaviour. And in this, we can have an active role.

Slow living is about removing yourself from the quickened pace of daily life to make conscious decisions. In the environmental sphere, this means replacing the idea that “you don’t have time”, with “living with intent” by planning ahead to be able to consume in a more sustainable way.

For example, you could make more time to cook from scratch using local, in-season produce that doesn’t come wrapped in packaging. This could have a knock-on effect; support your local community, eat fresher food and carve out time in your day for a screen-free, mindful activity.

Or, you might choose to do some research into sustainable swaps for your go-to plastic items on supermarket shelves – many of these products are reusable, too, benefitting your wallet.

When it comes to the impact of our impulsive throwaway culture on the environment, it’s clear that it’s time to build on the counter-current that has been stirring in recent years. It’s time to live slower and make it fashionable to reuse, research and waste less.