Author of Seasonal Food Paul Waddington talks to us about how to make the most of the seasons and his favourite British produce.
How did you become so interested in seasonal food?
I'd always thought of myself as a bit of a foodie, having lived in France, eaten in London restaurants, etc.
But one day I realised I had no idea when was the season for asparagus, a highly seasonal, gourmet food.
In fact I didn't really know when anything was in season and the shame of my ignorance led me to do some research.
I found that there was no reference book to seasonal food in Britain. I found plenty of cookbooks but nothing that told me what was in season, when and why. So it struck me that such a book should be written.
Do you think we could live by seasonal produce alone?
Strictly speaking no, not in our climate and certainly not with our current population.
If you want to live on seasonal produce alone, move somewhere with an equatorial climate, where there's always something ready to pick.
We've been dependent on cheating the seasons for centuries: storing, drying, pickling and preserving short-season crops to see us through the lean times.
Do you cheat and eat food that's out of season?
Yes, but very selectively. I avoid all air-freighted food and anything which (in my opinion) just doesn't taste good out of season (strawberries, for example).
I eat a lot of imported temperate-climate fruit out of season, such as apples and pears, because it's so hard to go without them.
You can get stored British variants through the year but studies have shown there is little to choose environmentally between long-refrigerated local fruit and sea-freighted antipodean produce, for example.
Food wise, what is your favourite British season and why?
It has to be early autumn, because it's just such a massive cornucopia of food, from fruit, nuts and early winter veg through to the first wild game of the year, oysters, wild mushrooms... the list is endless.
All this talk about food is making me hungry... What are you having for dinner tonight?
The honest answer is pasta, pesto and peas, because we're in a hurry. But there'll be some seasonal greens from the garden for lunch tomorrow.
Buy Paul's book Seasonal Food for just £6.99 (RRP £7,99) from Friends of the Earth's shop
© Paul Waddington