Eat shoots and leaves - but in the right order
RHUBARB is in and strawberries are out. Scots would only tuck into "in season" produce under the latest plans to transform the nation's health and eating habits.
Shops, chefs, restaurant owners and householders are all being urged to embrace seasonal fruit and vegetables as part of a new campaign.
Dubbed "Eat In Season", the government hopes it will lead to people eating better food, saving money and adopting a more "sustainable" lifestyle choice.
However business leaders have questioned how much the campaign - which will involve supermarkets being urged to embrace more seasonal produce - will do to help independent producers and shopkeepers.
Official research for the government has found the majority of Scots have no idea what food is in season and when.
The government believes shoppers have become spoiled by supermarkets shipping in all kinds of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables all year round.
According to Cook Scotland, which is supporting the campaign, vegetables in season in February include broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots and leeks. Meats include duck, goose and wild game birds, while fish include langoustine, scallops and wild salmon.
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A YouGov survey for the government found that of the reasons for not buying in-season food, 36 per cent of people said it was hard to know what was in season and what was not. The survey also found that 54 per cent of people were buying in-season food or produce only about once a week.
Richard Lochhead, the rural affairs minister, who launched the new campaign at Howies Restaurant in Edinburgh yesterday, said in-season food was often cheaper and tastier.
Mr Lochhead said: "Scotland's seasonal larder offers a fantastic array of fresh produce.
"Eating food that's in season means enjoying food at its peak in terms of flavour. It can also make a difference to the weekly shopping bill, as more abundant, in-season food is often cheaper.
"I'm sure that as Scots become more aware of what's in season they will see how easy it is to incorporate tasty and seasonal produce into their everyday lives."
Stuart Mackinnon, public affairs officer at the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, said: "We support any moves to persuade people to shop locally and visit independent retailers.
"The crucial thing with a campaign like this is to see if it has had any kind of impact to persuade people to change their habits. We need to understand how the government plans to measure its success and whether it has made a difference or not.Many independent producers still find it difficult to get their produce into supermarkets."
Liberal Democrat deputy environment spokesman Jim Hume MSP said the Scottish Government could do more to promote local food and support Scotland's food producers.He said: "They could be directing public agencies to support local producers in procurement processes. Local councils, health boards and the prison service should set a good example."
Last night a spokeswoman for consumer organisation Which? said: "Seasonal food should be better value, and in may cases will be better quality."
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