People often talk of fruit not tasting as good as it once did. We instinctively know that a carrot pulled straight from the ground is going to be crisper, tastier and healthier than one bought in a plastic bag.
Yet it has become so easy to buy almost any food we want at any time of the year that many of us don’t think about growing seasons. Most are even less aware of the various artificial techniques supermarkets use to keep the shelves stocked.
The pressures of the supply chain mean that fruit and veg are often picked too early, forced to finish ripening in dark rooms and warehouses on the way to the store.
You’re still putting a peach in your basket, but the process of getting it to you compromises the flavour and nutritional value in favour of speed and convenience.
And then there are those fruit and veg that just shouldn’t exist — strawberries in winter, carrots in summer. Sometimes freezing and thawing is used, but more often the produce is imported from around the world.
Importing fresh produce adds days or weeks to the journey from the soil to your plate. And the extended exposure to oxygen, light and heat while in storage reduces the nutritional content.
To keep fruit and veg fresher for longer on these journeys, many are modified to grow thicker skins, which unsurprisingly also impact the flavour and texture.
Finding truly fresh food is no longer as easy as it was half a century ago. But with the right information, we can all enjoy fresh produce and even healthier cooking.