So you might have been wondering what happened to my January locavore challenge?! (Or maybe you haven’t!) Here’s what happened…
We stuck rigorously to our UK food challenge for the first 3 weeks of the month. We were having a great time coming up with new recipes, eating lots of pearl barley and we even made a UK pizza! We found UK squash, potatoes, cabbage, bread flour, beetroot. We managed to find UK grown tomatoes and salad on more than one occasion and we wondered how we were able to get these items in January in the UK and what kind of witchcraft had made this possible. In the supermarkets however, the choice in produce was usually conventionally grown in the UK or organically grown elsewhere. We didn’t like having to choose the conventional produce but that was often our only option.
During January my part time job turned into a pretty much full time job and my life seemed to get a bit busier at the same time as my energy levels dwindling as they seem to do every January. So my intention of sharing our locavore journey with you flew right out of the proverbial window.
In the fourth week of January our locavore resolve weakened.. We missed chocolate, we missed our favourite comfort foods, we missed fruit. It was freezing cold here in Wales and we needed food to make our souls happy. We fell off the locavore bandwagon and indulged in our favourite treats, bananas, chocolate, pasta, tinned tomatoes. These foods that we had once, very recently, taken for granted we now appreciated so much more. We now knew their real value and we savoured every bite.
During February I read an amazing book, ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,’ by Barbara Kingsolver. This book details the journey that she and her family went on to eat local (within 100 miles) for a whole year of their lives. Between them they got up at the crack of dawn to head to the farmers market, they planted fruits, vegetables and herbs, raised chickens for eggs and meat and bought bread flour from a local mill. They spent evenings in summer preserving, canning and freezing food. They also cultivated a real sense of community around them, they made connections with their local farmers and wider community.
We have decided to follow in Barbara’s footsteps and we plan to grow as much of our own produce as possible in our small garden. We are both novice growers but we hope to grow our produce organically using a no dig gardening method. We are still planning our garden at present. Please let us know if you have any gardening tips for novices like us!
During March I have made connections with our local organic farm (Primrose Farm) and have thus far been to volunteer with them for a day. It was such a beautiful day and so good for my soul. I helped to remove slugs from the salad beds, fix the small poly tunnels, hoe some weeds, put woodchip on the paths and cover the no dig beds in a new layer of beautiful rich compost. In exchange they fed me a delicious lunch and sent me home with a bag of amazing spicy salad leaves, beetroot, carrots and celeriac. I was such a happy bunny bringing this bounty home, knowing that it had been grown so close to my home. I also got to meet and connect with so many like minded people whilst I was there. I can’t wait to go back.
So what have we learnt during our ‘locavore month’ (or should that be ‘locavore flunk’?!). We have a new found appreciation for the food we consume. It takes so much energy and resources to produce and transport food that we hate to throw any away. We have wasted less food than ever before. We were pretty good at using up leftovers and eating all our fresh produce before but now we are amazingly good. The only things in our compost bin now are pretty much peelings. We still eat foods from other countries but we definitely don’t take it for granted. We would really like to eat as locally as possible but we think choosing to start our local journey on a whim, in Wales, in January wasn’t the smartest idea!
I am continually perplexed by food. There are so many factors to take into account when purchasing food. Ethics, food miles, price, seasonality, whether it is organic, what it is packaged in… the list goes on. I am having an internal struggle with the fact that most of the foods I love are inherently bad for the Earth as they are shipped / flown from the other side of the world. We have a finite amount of valuable fossil fuels and it seems so frivolous to me that we should use them in this way. Do we really need raspberries from Bolivia in January? Many of my favourite foods include bananas, soy milk, cocoa / chocolate, chia seeds, mangoes, watermelons… None of which are grown in the UK. I am having a really hard time trying to separate my emotions to do with food and my knowledge of how the food made its journey to my plate. Whilst consuming these foods in the UK may be good for my personal health, they are terrible for the health of our planet. I continue to search for the diet that aligns with all of my values.
Questions for you…
- What is most important to you as a consumer when making purchases?
- Have you tried the locavore diet? What are your tips for success?
- Do you have any tips for newbie gardeners?
Please help me to help myself by holding me accountable to a weekly blog, message, comment and spam me if I don’t! I am going to commit to blogging every Wednesday (UK).