British ‘clueless’ about seasonal fruit and veg

Most Brits are “clueless” about when different fruit and vegetables are in season, with many unaware they could buy British strawberries in the summer and home-grown brussels sprouts in December, a survey suggests.

The survey of 2,000 adults, commissioned by sustainable food and farming group Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF), was published ahead of this week’s Open Farm Sunday event.

At a time when there are increased calls within the food and farming industry for consumers to buy more local food, it shows there are still alarming gaps in knowledge about food provenance.

Three-quarters of Brits (75%) admitted they were “clueless” when it comes to seasonality, the poll found.

Read also: How Open Farm Sunday can boost your business

Many consumers didn’t know that British farmers even grew foods such as aubergines (19%), blueberries (63%), sweetcorn (62%), iceberg lettuce (37%), cauliflower (29%), carrots (21%).

Almost one fifth of those surveyed (19%) – did not know that apples were grown in the UK.

Despite the strong association of strawberries with Wimbledon, less than six in 10 adults knew they could buy British strawberries in the summer.

Some 5,000ha of British strawberries are grown commercially each year, yet one in five people questioned didn’t realise that our farmers grew them at all.

In fact, many people were unable to say which fruit and vegetables were grown on British farms at all:

  • One in 5 didn’t know we grew apples
  • One third didn’t know we grew iceberg lettuce
  • 80% did not know aubergines were grown on British farms

The British asparagus season generally runs from April until June has also passed many consumers by. Yet only one in three people knew when they could buy British asparagus, with one in 10 thinking they could buy it all year round.

Winter produce fared no better, with nearly half of consumers (46%) unaware that in December you could buy British brussels sprouts, a vital part of a traditional Christmas dinner.

The research also showed that those born in the 1990s have significantly less knowledge than previous generations.

People born in the 1990s were 1.5 times less likely to know British farmers grew strawberries (64% compared with 93%), and twice as likely not to know that not know that iceberg lettuce is grown on British farms (37% compared with 80%).

Meanwhile, many adults born in the 1990s also thought we commercially grew oranges (16%), bananas (8%), kiwi fruits and mangoes (both 5%).

LEAF is hosting Open Farm Sunday, the agricultural industry’s open day on Sunday (8 June).

Nearly 400 farms of all types and sizes across England, Scotland and Wales will be opening their gates for visitors to celebrate British farming and food. Visitors can find their local farm here or at farmsunday.

Annabel Shackleton, LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday manager, said: “Talking to a farmer is a great way to discover more about your food, so we’d encourage as many people as possible to visit their local farm on Open Farm Sunday.”


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