Seasonal food

Different foods grow better at different times of the year.

What are seasons?

  • There are four seasons in a year: spring, summer, autumn and winter.
  • Each season has different weather because Earth, which is the planet we live on, travels around the Sun.
  • The Earth is tilted. In summer, the north tilts towards the Sun. That means countries like Scotland, get more sunlight in summer. Our summer days are longer and the weather is warmer. In winter, the north of the Earth tilts away from the sun. That makes Scotland's winter days shorter and the weather colder.
A chart showing different types of fruit and vegetables available in spring, summer, autumn and winter

What is seasonal food?

  • Seasonal food is fresh food that is ready to eat during its preferred season.
  • For example, Scottish raspberries are juicy and delicious in the summer and early autumn. They do not grow wild in Scotland during winter as it is too cold.
Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts - Winter

Brussels sprouts like cold temperatures and grow best in winter. That's why they often make an appearance in our Christmas dinners.

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Are all foods seasonal?

Some foods are not seasonal. Meat and dairy are available all year. Cows are milked and chickens produce eggs from January all the way to December.

Technology and transport

Today we can buy and eat a wide variety of foods all year. Technology and transport mean they do not need to be in season.

  • Food can be transported around the world on lorries, boats and even planes.
  • Farms use large greenhouses to control the temperature and create the perfect growing conditions. That is why we can buy berries like strawberries and blueberries in the winter when they would not naturally grow outside.
  • Tropical fruit comes from places with hot climates like Asia, Latin America and Africa. Most of our pineapples come from Costa Rica. Mangoes come to the UK from a number of countries, including Brazil, Peru, Kenya, Uganda, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Tropical fruit, like mangoes, are grown in warmer countries like Brazil

Advantages of seasonal foods

  • Food tastes much better when its grown in its natural season.
  • Tasty fresh food grown locally in season is cheaper to buy.
  • Seasonal food is better for the environment.

Environment

Growing and transporting food so that it is always available uses lots of energy which creates CO2. This greenhouse gas is harmful to the environment.

Try this short quiz to test your knowledge on seasonal eating

Challenge

Make a seasonal food calendar. Write down the months of the year and draw a healthy food product that is in season to match the month.

BBC Good Food Seasonality table