Website will tell consumers what foods are in season
The ignorance of the urban public about their food in this country never ceases to astound me – and it seems to be getting worse by the generation.
One in eight people believe that bananas and pineapples are grown commercially in the UK, with four out of 10 expecting to buy British peaches.
Three-quarters of shoppers have admitted being unaware of when the bulk of British fruit and vegetables are in season, according to a new survey, carried out by the NFU.
But, reassuringly, the research showed that the majority would seek out home-grown produce if they knew more.
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With this in mind, the NFU has launched a mobile website so that consumers can find out exactly what to look for on the shelves when out shopping.
The survey also revealed that only half of shoppers were aware that peppers, butternut squash and aubergines could be grown in this country.
NFU chief horticulture adviser Hayley Campbell- Gibbons told me: "We don't expect shoppers to know exactly when the British seasons are for all fruit and vegetables. But we can, however, arm them with the seasonality information they need to make informed decisions when out shopping."
As part of its Farming Delivers for Britain campaign, the NFU has launched the What's In Season website, which can be accessed on any smart phone, an easy-to-use monthly guide to in-season British fruit and vegetables that consumers can refer to when shopping or planning a recipe.
As Hayley explained, the growing season has been massively extended through the introduction of new varieties, modern growing techniques and the use of poly-tunnels.
"People are always surprised to know exactly how long the season is for many of the fruit and vegetables we grow," she added. "Consumers have understandably relied on the supermarkets to tell them what's in season by the food they stock on the shelves. With our mobile website they can find out for themselves when to expect to buy British."
Of course , if they can't find it, they can always ask their supermarket why – though there's no guarantee they will receive a remotely helpful answer.
Other findings from the NFU research included the fact that more than 90 per cent of people were unaware that the British tomato season runs from February to October; 70 per cent did not know that broccoli is available between June and November and a surprising 65 per cent of consumers were unaware that the iconic British strawberry was available from April through to November. But nearly half knew they could buy British asparagus in April, May and June.
Unsurprisingly (to me anyway) was the statistic that people aged over 55 were more likely to know when British fruit and vegetables were available, compared to just 17 per cent of gormless 18 to 24 year olds.
The What's In Season website can be found at wis.farmingdelivers.co.uk.