Buying local fruit and vegetables
THE National Farmers Union has come up with a way to try to persuade more people to buy British fruit and vegetables.
It is a mobile helpline that can explain when and where we can buy locally grown produce instead of relying on food flown in from thousands of miles away.
Three out of four shoppers are unaware of when the bulk of British fruit and vegetables are in season.
One in eight people mistakenly believe that bananas and pineapples are grown commercially in the UK, with four in ten expecting to buy British peaches.
Only half of shoppers are aware that peppers, butternut squash and aubergines can be grown in this country.
However, research shows that the majority of Brits would look for home-grown produce if they knew more.
The Journal went out on to Barnstaple's streets to see how well we know our onions.
One of those with the best idea was Katie Shapland from Hiscott, who comes from a farming background.
She grows her own potatoes, cabbage, beans onions and carrots and parsley among other things and knew exactly when most of our popular fruit and veg were available.
"Although I don't know about cauliflower, I'm guessing the season would be July and August," she said, then admitted it might be more of a winter vegetable.
With friend Julian Lange she backed the NFU idea.
"I don't know about the vegetable seasons as well as I should," said Julian.
"But I know you can grow peppers in this country, although I'm not sure when they're around".
Some visitors from South Devon were pretty good on the more well-known items, like strawberries.
"They're around here in June and July," said Christine Carol and Michael Donovan, who were on holiday from the Totnes area.
But where would they look to find green peppers?
"Spain and the Mediterrenean countries," they said, unsure whether peppers could be grown in this country.
Fellow visitors Thomas and Lydia Hands were nearer the mark. " There are the right kind of farms here for peppers. I think they're grown in those long plastic polytunnels, " said Thomas.
Their growing experience is limited to using a roof terrace where they have space for a few herbs.
So what did they think of the NFU's idea?
"We'd definitely use it," said Christine.
Michael said: "We'd like a small allotment and we'd certainly grow a lot more if we could get the space."
June Carey, from Bradiford, near Barnstaple, was enthusiastic about the NFU scheme.
"It is a good idea, but I think at the moment the seasons are stretched out anyway with people using polytunnels.
"But it's a good idea for a lot of people who live in the cities and don't have a garden and don't do their own growing."
She preferred going to town and Saturday morning village markets rather than the big supermarkets.
So how well does she know her cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli?
She said: "We've been buying English broccoli for a couple of months now, and that will be around until the spring, no, probably Christmas?
"Even the markets have it most of the time and they can be buying from any country.
"But you can't be certain because it's around most of the year now, and it doesn't necessarily say if it's from England or not."
"I do try to buy English if I can't grow it myself."
Her friend, Frances Galbraith, said: "There's no point in talking to me, I'm not a cookin any shape or form.
"But I think it's a good idea to buy British."
June had been picking her own peppers just that morning.
And can we grow bananas in this country?
"I think you can in Torquay," she said.
Frances said: "I should think you can in places where they've got beautiful big glasshouses.
"A friend of mine near West Down had a banana plant and he did get fruit from it until the winter. You have to wrap them up in the winter.
"He had a beautiful little corner in his garden that was sheltered and he did have fruit. But I don't think it ripened enough because we don't have a long enough season for that kind of thing.
"But you can grow peaches and plums, damsons and obviously apples, and there are plenty of hedgerow things around."
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