The Hunger Gap

In recent months the Locavore veg box has doubled. This means even more people are now eating local, organic, seasonal veg which is great. There are so many benefits of eating this way; it is better for our health, the environment and our tastebuds. Eating with the seasons provides us with the freshest food. Your carrots are usually harvested on a Monday morning for delivery to your door on Wednesday and you can taste the freshness.

Supermarkets sell us “fresh” food which can be six months or even, in the case of apples, a year old. They harvest produce and store it in giant warehouses where the air has reduced oxygen. These places keep fruit and veg in a state where it looks fresh but lots of the nutrients have gone. It’s part of the reason industrial food has become so bland. Choosing fresh and local means we get to eat food with real flavour. The supermarkets have provided a year-round bounty of blandness where we eat strawberries in December & parsnips in summer. Eating local means getting back in touch with what is in season, the gifts of the natural world.

What is the Hunger Gap?

The main challenge with seasonal eating is what to do when the seasons do not provide. The hunger gap is the time between winter & spring when the roots, cabbages and kale of winter have run out but the bright greens of spring are not ready.

For Locavore this is a nailbiting season as we wait to see how the weather affects new season growth, the storage of winter veg and the final harvests of potatoes, onions and carrots. This year things are looking ok so far. We get lots of our veg from Graham at Chapel Farm in Berwick. His family have been farming on that land for three generations and they produce an incredible amount of high-quality vegetables in a challenging location.

Our farm in Neilston is gearing up for the season with crop plans made and soil prepared we will soon start to sow the seeds of your summer salad bowls. Until then we will have leeks and some claytonia from our polytunnel.

leeks locvorefarm
Our leek crop

We also get vegetables from England to supplement what we can produce in Scotland. Down there the winter weather was extremely wet. The yields from lots of farms have been lower than previous years as the wet ground caused vegetables to rot. This means there will be a shortage of items such as squash and kale. Staples like onions, beetroot and cabbages have finished earlier than usual.

What does it mean for your veg box?

All this means your veg box will get lighter towards the end of February until some time in April/May. This is because the cost of fresh vegetables goes up as they become more scarce. During winter the price of root veg is pretty low, this is the cheapest season of the year.

Spring and summer are different. The veg are lighter – literally! Lettuce does not weigh nearly as much as a swede. As things get lighter the box can seem like less value for money but let’s be honest, who isn’t looking forward to the crunch of lettuce and the heady aroma of tomatoes?

As the veg get lighter so do our meals. I love that transition from stew to a salad. The pleasure of a poached egg bathing asparagus in its silky yolk. What we lose in bulk we gain in texture and variety of flavours. We also don’t need to spend as long in the kitchen, a salad can be thrown together in minutes. Weather permitting we will have some beautiful coriander in April/May. I am also looking forward to bean season & edible flowers.

Hunger Gap Games, tips for survival.

  1. Join our Facebook group. If you’re looking for inspiration for what to cook from your box this is the place to be. This is where you can chat to other box subscribers, ask questions and see what everyone else is doing with their produce
  2. Start preserving now. Making some quick pickles is a great way to preserve some of the roots which will soon run out.
  3. Ferment your veg. You can make sauerkraut from almost anything and it will provide you with a powerhouse of nutrients not to mention fab flavour. Fermented vegetables can stay in the fridge for months.
  4. Batch cook & freeze. I had more onions than I needed this week so I softened them in butter & froze them in portion sizes. We will have a time when there are no onions so this is a great thing to do
  5. Think about getting nutrients from places you don’t normally go to. Pulses are a phenomenal way to nourish body & soul. Having a few cans of lentils & chickpeas on hand means a dal or tasty dip are always just a few minutes away.

We would love to hear how you’re surviving the hunger gap. Share your stories with us on Instagram & Facebook and watch out for our recipes and tips here on the website.

Thanks for supporting Locavore on our mission to make a better food system.