With the arrival of spring, Kath Hope from Food Drink Devon falls in love with local and seasonal all over again
I love this time of year. All around Devon, nature is shrugging off winter, bursting into spring and providing us with lots of fantastic produce, making it the ideal time to shop locally and seasonally.
You can’t fail to be aware of the environmental benefits of buying local and reducing our food miles, but many people are also starting to appreciate the advantages of eating seasonally. Foods that are in season often contain the nutrients, minerals and trace elements that our bodies need at particular times of the year. Local, seasonal produce reaches our plate fresher, without the chemical enhancements required to grow things all year round and transport them across the globe.
We have an outstanding array of producers in Devon, who are keen to provide us with quality ingredients to cook at home. When it comes to spring dishes, I immediately think of lamb, not least because I pass fields of them every day at this time of the year. However, there has been a gradual decline in popularity over the years, in line with a huge increase in vegetarianism among millennials.
When you choose grass-fed Devon lamb, you’re buying an artisan product packed with flavour and nourishment, while supporting a farming tradition that dates back centuries. Whether it’s to accompany a roast or the mainstay of your meal, this time of year welcomes a host of fabulous vegetables – including carrots, cauliflowers, cabbages and spinach. My personal favourite has to be asparagus, a vegetable that’s so delectable it can be enjoyed by itself. If you’re not a fan already, you might be interested to know that asparagus is said to improve your libido and cure hangovers!
It’s also a great time to enjoy rhubarb, another favourite in our household, and it has many health benefits. It is undeniably delicious and nutritious but not without controversy. Ask a number of gardeners whether it is a fruit or vegetable and an argument is likely to ensue. Ask the US legal system and they will confidently declare it is a fruit, as per a court ruling in 1947!
The standards of eating out have never been higher in Devon. Restaurateurs share the public’s passion for provenance and are rising to the challenge of delighting increasingly discerning consumers with new flavours and clever culinary combinations. Seek out one of the growing number of ‘ultra-local’ dining experiences where many of the ingredients are grown on-site, or check the menu in your favourite haunt for supplier listings from the neighbourhood.
As part of its ongoing media partnership with Taste Buds, this is a series of articles written by Food Drink Devon.