Schools Nutrition Seasonal Eats: Autumn The transition into Autumn brings with it noticeable changes for all of us, not only in the colour of the leaves and hours of sunlight, but also what is available to buy and eat in our local shops. This time of year provides an opportunity to consider what we are eating and how the food we choose supports our own health, as well as that of the wider environment. In the UK, we are lucky enough to have access to a variety of fresh produce from around the world throughout the year, however, it’s worth turning our attention to foods that are in season, grown locally and therefore fresh, tasty and cost effective. So why buy local, seasonal food? Certain fresh produce, such as pumpkin, squash and courgettes, are at their best during the Autumn season, when they are ripe and ready to harvest. Locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables eaten in season have a higher nutritional value than the same product that has been packed, stored and shipped large distances before arriving on your plate. There is something satisfying knowing that your corn on the cob is sweeter because it has just been picked and still retains its vital nutrients and flavour. Farmers will utilise the weather conditions of each season to maximise the growth of their crops, so come harvest time, when there is a glut of apples, pears or parsnips that need to be sold fresh, local produce is generally cheaper to buy than imported products. Fresh food products sourced from local markets or farm shops can be sold loose, reducing the need for excess packaging and encouraging consumers to cultivate eco-friendly shopping habits (e.g. bringing a bag from home or reusing previous packaging). Buying locally sourced products means supporting your community, encouraging local business to thrive and building positive relationships between suppliers and consumers. Taking a trip to the market to see what’s in season provides a brilliant opportunity for children to learn about the journey of food from farm to fork, encouraging healthy eating habits and a love of fresh fruit and veg for the whole family! Autumn is an exciting time to experiment with different ingredients and recipes, have a go with one of the quick and easy recipes…coming soon! What’s in season now? Where to source local, seasonal produce: Most villages, towns or boroughs will hold a regular monthly or weekly market; ask around, or search for details on your local council website. If you live near a rural area, check if any farms sell excess produce to the public. They may have a farm shop or stall on site. Veg box schemes - there are many fresh produce suppliers which will deliver to your door. Check out local schemes in your area. You can usually choose to have a ‘seasonal box’ delivered, which will contain whatever has been harvested that week, or create your own bespoke veg box by choosing different items online. City farms are becoming more widespread - if you can visit one, it’s a great experience for the whole family, and you could come home with armfuls of fresh, tasty ingredients collected along the way. Pick Your Own farms - blueberries, raspberries, sweetcorn, pumpkin…. take your own container and fill to the brim!