#SeasonalVeg campaign urges shoppers to support local food during COVID-19 pandemic

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Eat seasonal produce for health, environment and economy, new campaign says / Pic: GettyImages-Zbynek Pospisil
Eat seasonal produce for health, environment and economy, new campaign says / Pic: GettyImages-Zbynek Pospisil

Related tags Local food Seasonal coronavirus COVID-19

A campaign to encourage UK consumers to eat more seasonal vegetables and support British farmers during the coronavirus crisis launches today.

Non-profit Veg Power has launched the nationwide appeal with backing from celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Others joining the campaign include YouTube cooking channel SORTEDfood.

With pubs, restaurants, and hotels currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, large quantities of local seasonal vegetables are at risk of going to waste, Veg Power explained. In response, food writers, chefs, nutritionists, and other ‘food system influencers’ are mobilising to encourage everyone to eat seasonal veg, by supporting the #SeasonalVeg campaign.

It aims to swing people’s choice towards the local vegetables coming into season, in order to support British farmers - ‘the front line food heroes’ - and reduce the risk of food waste during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We grow a wonderful variety of beautiful veg in the UK and we are just coming into the most abundant season of the year. Of course a diet big on vegetables is a massive win for our long-term health – and eating seasonal veg is also a great way to support our farmers during economically challenging times,”​ chef Fearnley-Whittingstall said.

“Let’s all embrace the sheer goodness of the best vegetables this summer and beyond. I certainly will.”

Getting kids to eat their veg

Veg Power was created as a result of the Peas Please campaign, a collaboration between the Food Foundation, Nourish Scotland, Food Sense Wales and the WWF, to make it easier for families to incorporate vegetables into their diets.

According to Veg Power, 80% of British kids simply don’t eat enough vegetables and over half of parents say they have stopped trying.

“We face a national crisis in childhood obesity coupled with malnourishment which threatens the long-term health and wellbeing of our children, our NHS, our environment and UK farming,”​ Veg Power warned.

Children’s food writer Amanda Grant, who is also backing the campaign, said that the initiative is an opportunity to encourage children to up their vegetable intake.

"By showing children how to prepare vegetables you're teaching them new, useful life skills, as well as helping them to learn about what’s in season and relax around vegetables. Children are much more likely to eat a carrot they helped wash or peel, and when you’re in the kitchen with them it’s also a great opportunity to encourage them to try the veg in season this month," ​she commented. 

Veg Power: Eat veg for immunity boost

Seasonal vegetables that the campaign is highlighting include asparagus, cucumbers, mushrooms, salad leaves, courgettes, spinach, tomatoes, radishes, beetroot and more.

Beyond supporting local farmers and the national food supply chain, Veg Power suggested that increased vegetable consumption can ‘support a healthy diet’ and ‘help boost immunity’.

Veg Power chief marketing officer Dan Parker stressed that vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

“Switching to a diet packed full of seasonal vegetables is one of the most effective things each of us can do to reduce the environmental impact of our food and boost our immunity and general health,”​ Parker commented.

Lending her voice to the chorus of support, farming minister Victoria Prentis said: “From springtime asparagus to hardy winter greens, our farmers work throughout the year to produce an array of produce renowned for its exceptional taste and quality. Here in Britain we are lucky to have this abundance on our plates, and I encourage everyone to support our food heroes by buying seasonally and locally.”

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