With every type of fruit and vegetable on our shelves all year round, it's hard to know what's in season when. But until 30 years ago, you could no more buy a strawberry in December than you could a parsnip in August.
Considering the level of choice available today, it's unrealistic to expect consumers to buy only seasonal produce. But eating food when it's meant to be eaten does have its advantages.
At Good Housekeeping, we're keen to champion seasonal eating. Why? Because, quite simply, the food tastes better. Take tomatoes, for example. To grow properly, they need a combination of nutrient-rich soil and strong sunlight. Given these requirements, it makes sense that tomatoes are at their sweetest and juiciest during the summer months. Those grown out of season in an air-conditioned greenhouse can taste about as exciting as a mouthful of wet wool.
Another plus is that fruit, vegetables and other produce are generally cheaper in season because there are greater quantities available. The yield from an out-of-season crop of courgettes will never match a summer harvest so the cost is inevitably higher.
Buying in season encourages consumers to shop locally too, which has the double advantage of supporting local and specialist producers and making shopping easier. Without the lure of raspberries and strawberries in the middle of winter, there's less choice to worry about.
It's not only small producers that are championing the seasonality cause. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has a range of food preparation ideas on its website to inspire people to try something new and seasonal which they might not normally buy. Visit http://www.eatwell.gov.uk for more information.
Eating seasonally doesn't mean missing out. On the contrary, food becomes more of a treat and a privilege if we wait until a particular product is at its best. It's up to the food industry to promote this to consumers as a shift towards a better way of life. The result? A more sustainable home-grown food industry and British produce we can be proud of.
is cookery assistant at Good Housekeeping Magazine, http://www.goodhousekeeping.co.uk