Have you heard of ‘The Hungry Gap’? Well I hadn’t until my local organic supplier Tolhurst Organics told me they had very few vegetables either growing or in storage. I went through the veggie section in my local Waitrose and found only a handful of produce from the UK- asparagus, spring greens, carrots and Jersey royal potatoes. Most of the organic veg came from Spain (but see the last quoted paragraph below). I Googled this phenomenon to find out more. Below is copy from https://wickedleeks.riverford.co.uk/, but you can also try https://sustainablefoodtrust.org/ and https://www.farmdrop.com/ for more info.
The Hungry Gap is the hardest time of year for UK farmers: a few weeks, usually in April, May and early June, after the winter crops have ended but before the new season’s plantings are ready to harvest.
It all comes down to the UK’s latitude. We sit right at the geographical limit for many spring crops, which would not survive our cold winter temperatures if grown any earlier. At the same time, as the days warm up into spring, many hardy winter crops like sprouts, kales, and caulis ‘bolt’ (abandon leaf growth to start producing flowers and seeds). The result is unproductive fields and fewer British-grown crops…….
If it’s such a dire time, why hasn’t everyone heard more about the Hungry Gap before – or noticed its impact on their plates? …..
The name ‘the Hungry Gap’ harks back to a time when an empty field really meant going hungry. Traditionally, the gap had to be bridged with a spartan diet of cabbage, old potatoes, and fruits preserved during kinder months. These days, however, very few people eat a local, seasonal diet; the supermarkets can easily top up their shelves with even more imported produce, or crops grown in the UK under heated glass, and no one need notice the difference.
Importing isn’t a perfect solution, but it’s far less damaging than growing the same crops in the UK using artificial heat. Take the example of tomatoes. The huge amounts of heat used in glass hothouses is produced by burning gas or oil. For every kilo of tomatoes this way, 2-3 kilos of CO2 are released into the atmosphere. Trucking tomatoes over from Spain uses just a tenth of the carbon compared with growing them in the UK using heat. It’s not perfect, but it’s the least damaging option.”
Buckwheat is a pseudograin, and not from the same family as wheat so is therefore suitable for coeliacs. It’s nutritional value is extensive as any search on google will tell you, but here are just a few
Rich in magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese. These minerals help reduce cholesterol and protect our immune system
A great source of protein and lysine, an amino acid that helps digestion and is important in plant-based diets
Because it’s a seed, it contains flavenoids, plant pigments with phytonutrients that boost vitamin C and act as antioxidants
It can help control blood sugar levels because it is high in soluble fibre
Recipes always recommend rinsing the grain thoroughly before cooking, if you are using the groats (‘grains’). This month I have used the buckwheat groats in place of rice, both in a hot savoury dish and in a salad. I also use buckwheat flour often in place of plain wheat flour for baked items such as muffins and banana bread. Buckwheat is the main ingredient of French pancakes (crepes) and I have used it successfully in pancakes myself.
I have also read that it makes good porridge but I have yet to test it! Soba noodles are also made from buckwheat.