Green Michelin-starred chef Chantelle Nicholson. Credit: Chantelle Nicholson
A warming bowl of squash soup in autumn. The refreshing crispness of a summer salad.
Most of us know that food grown overseas and shipped to the UK is terrible for the environment, but products grown in the UK out of season are not necessarily an improvement.
Tomatoes grown out of season using heated glass in the UK create CO2 emissions of around 2.5kg per kg of fruit, compared to about 0.24kg for trucking them from Spain where artificial heat isn’t needed.
Award-winning chef Chantelle Nicholson, former chef-patron of now-closed and much-loved Covent Garden restaurant Tredwells (the recipient of a green Michelin star for sustainability in 2021), is keen to point out the impact on our health too.
“Generally speaking, it is from a closer proximity than it would otherwise be, so can be much fresher, ensuring those vital nutrients are retained.
“It allows us to follow the natural cycles of the seasons and generally means it just tastes better too.”
As one of the leading female voices in the UK’s hospitality industry, Chantelle is an advocate for seasonality and sustainability, championing veg-forward cooking through both the restaurant and her cookbook, Planted.
Here she shares eight ways you can embrace eating the seasons.
Seasons eatings: Chantelle Nicholson’s guide to eating seasonally
- Your local farmers market will have a high percentage of seasonal and local food and there are around 20 farmers markets in London. The website London Farmers Markets allows you to search by your location so you can find your nearest.
- Check the origin of where your fruit and veg is from in the supermarket; it is usually labelled either on the packet or else the crate.
- Brilliant vegetarian food writer, Anna Jones, has a lovely newsletter that includes top tips for seasonal eating and really delicious recipes, and her cookbooks are also very useful.
- Environmental organisation, Hubbub, is a great resource for tips that are good for people and the planet. There are also seasonal recipes on their website.
- Growing Communities is a boundary-pushing east London organisation that sets out to improve the food system. There are a number of veg box schemes on their site, plus updates from farmers markets, recipes and much more.
- Have a go at growing your own. You only need a small pot and a few seeds - peas are great in summer, brassicas and squash in winter.
- Visit restaurants that champion local food. Silo in Hackney Wick, Lyle’s in Shoreditch and Levan in Peckham are some of my favourites.
- I always have several of Catherine Phipps’ cookbooks on my shelves. She really celebrates the seasons and has an amazing depth of food knowledge.