Getting started on going local

lentilsI am making my final preparations for the Cambridge Carbon Footprint Local Food Challenge – for a fortnight only food sourced from within 30 miles of home will pass my lips, from Monday.

Earlier in the week I mentioned to a friend that I was going to do this challenge.  “What about poor farmers in Africa who depend on us buying their food?” she replied.  I managed to side-step this by pointing out that I hardly ever eat food from Africa (possibly the occasional mango).  Then I stressed the appeal of living more locally. “Wouldn’t vegetables grown near to home taste so much better than those flown in?” I claimed. “No! I doubt it!” was the immediate reply.

To take my mind off these disparaging comments, and the complicated issues around development and globalisation, I work out what are the five things that I am allowed to buy as exceptions (rather like the luxury on Desert Island Discs, to accompany the Bible and works of Shakespeare).  I decide on coffee, oranges, rice, spices (hopefully salt and pepper count as spices) and ….do I go for healthy lentils?  or wine? or even chocolate? I opt virtuously for lentils (must I specify a colour?) deciding that protein and fibre wins out over alcohol and fat.  Anyway, I can have local beer can’t I – Milton Brewery is almost on our doorstep.  Then again, do all the beer ingredients come from within the 30 mile limit? This is trickier – any thoughts anyone?

And now I have just learnt that a wider radius is allowed for dairy and cereals so Lincolnshire cheese is an option as is East Anglian salt and vinegar.  Looking forward to getting inventive with a smaller (but definitely healthier and carefully thought out) range of ingredients and foods. Transition Cambridge offer a helpful list of locally-sourced foods that I shall be referring to for my next shopping trip.

So, next I am off to Daily Bread to buy some local flour, porridge oats and and soon I will find out what rapeseed oil tastes like!

Clare 12/1/14

(Credit for photo: Dey, Flickr, Creative Commons License)

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2 Responses to Getting started on going local

  1. Clare says:

    Thanks Bev, that is helpful. I can also vouch for the fact that locally grown organic salad leaves (from Great Abington, grown in an unheated greenhouse and bought from the market yesterday) even in January, taste fantastic! Just had some for lunch in my sandwich. Delicious!

  2. Bev says:

    I like the post, Clare! Re your friend’s comment about it being unfair to food producers in Africa, this is a complex issue, but it’s worth considering that people are often paid very little indeed for their work growing things by the mutinational companies and it many cases are using land and scarce water resources which are needed to grow food for the local population. (See Felicity Lawrence’s eye-opening book “Eat Your Heart Out: why the food business is bad for the planet and your health”.) I tend to buy Fair Trade goods such as bananas, coffee and pineapples (when I’m not doing the Eating Local challenge!) – these are not air-freighted and you know the producers are receiving a better price (although even that can be lower than it should be – see Fred Pearce’s “Confessions of an Eco-sinner”.)
    Bev

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