I read a depressing Facebook exchange on local food recently – some ‘raw foodies’ seemingly worried about how local food could provide fat and sweetness to those in the UK (funny how those two elements caused the most concern!). To address those two points swiftly:
- I am still able to purchase almonds from my local farmers’ market so that’s the nut that predominates in this house at the moment (having worked our way through the chestnuts, walnuts and hazelnuts gathered before winter).
- I am experimenting with local honey or stevia (planted from seed) mixed with rapeseed oil to make a liquid sweetener consistency similar to agave (as called for in various raw recipes) and I am still ravishing the most gorgeous pears (again from the farmers’ market) kept in storage since the autumn...
The exchange reminded me of an article I’d read late last year. It made me so angry that I am just going to echo one of the commentators, ‘What a ridiculous article!’ and leave it at that, with a tiny addendum that the named ‘aubergines, chillies, fresh ginger, sweet potatoes and turmeric’ can all be grown here in England. Yes, even the turmeric!
If, as the same commentator implied, the author had done just a modicum of research she could have highlighted, for example, the work of the wonderful NamaYasai who are based in Lewes but sell in various places in East Sussex, Kent and Surrey, plus London via the train, ‘Whilst the rail fare is roughly the same as fuel + congestion charge, it saves us some time and keeps our carbon footprint down’.
It’s so easy to look away, so easy to just divert our conscious thinking from the facts in front of us on our plates. When I ate meat I didn’t want to think about what the animal I was eating had experienced to get to my plate, so I didn’t, and similarly, I think the same thing applies to imported food. That said, it’s as easy to up the local quotidian as it is to look away. It is truly amazing the ‘exotics’ you can grow in England (even without a greenhouse). These are just some of the guides you might be interested in.
In our house we try to limit our imported food purchases to as little as possible. We make full use of spices – the way I see it, they’re tiny, thus light to import and last a long time if you buy things whole rather than pre-ground (spices always taste best if you grind them yourself anyway). Spices are magical! I also have some imported cacao powder and mesquite in my cupboards but the more you eat fresh local greens the less sweet things you crave anyway (although gazing at raw dessert pictures is still a pleasurable hobby!) and they have been there for at least a couple of years now, if not longer ...
Pictures are © via these wonderful books (don't you wish all food could be labelled re. its transportation whether by boat/lorry/plane/train?) which are both fascinating reads if you feel inclined to read further on the subject.