british food fortnight

today is the start of british food fortnight (18 september - 3 october. choosing local and seasonal ingredients is at the heart of how i cook and i thought this would be a good opportunity to focus on the array of british food that is currently in season and which is increasingly easy to source.

i get a lot of my fruit, vegetables, meat and fish from foodari (formerly known as food for kent and food for london, both of which i have written about before). i interviewed jonathan from foodari back in 2008 and have met regularly with him to find out more about the primarily kent-based food suppliers that foodari work with.

eating salad that has been grown and harvested within an hour of where i live is so much more appealing than the salad pouches that supermarkets sell – it also lasts and tastes so much better! choosing kentish tomatoes, which are fertilised via the bees which live in the greenhouses and which avoid disease through the use of predator insects instead of pesticides, is the kind of choice i want to make. these seasonal choices are often good value too – eating courgettes during the summer glut, or plums as we enter autumn, is never going to be expensive!

choosing seasonal meat and fish is something that requires a bit more effort – so much of it is available all-year round, especially in the case of meat which is usually farmed. it’s still worth making the effort though – foodari’s “in season” section is my starting point when i'm putting in an order but i also get a weekly email from eat the seasons, which covers a whole range of ingredients.

obviously not everything in my kitchen is local – my daily smoothie is dependent on bananas from overseas, but here i choose the fair trade option so that i increase the likelihood of farmers getting a fair deal. i also like to use authentic artisan products that reflect different cultures ways of cooking and eating. i think that sourcing my meat, fish, vegetables and fruit locally balances my indulgences of italian balsamic vinegar, french mustards, chinese cooking wine and japanese miso paste.

as for wine, there are some great british choices (chapel down is a particular favourite for white or rose and david and i both love the nyetimber sparkling) but again this is an area where compromise takes place. we tend to restrict ourselves to buying old world wines, with a particular focus on italian and spanish wines (much better value than french!).

being thoughtful about the food and drink choices i make means, i think, that i eat and drink more interesting things and have the added bonus of feeling happy about the ethical component of my choices, which support local businesses and reduce the food miles part of my carbon footprint.

these things are all a matter of personal choice but i wanted to share with you the choices that i make and explain why. i hope you enjoy reading about the food that i cook in the coming weeks.