Well I’ve not even been taking a hard-core approach to this i.e. only eating local produce yet its tougher than I thought. You get set in certain ways and habits food and shopping wise and breaking them takes some effort. I thought I was pretty good in my choices already but I can see that I can be much better. I can also see there are some other issues with only eating local, such as a hugely restricted and potentially dull diet (especially if it was winter) plus how can you unravel the centuries trade around, say, coffee, spices or chocolate (even if you wanted to) without having an enormous impact on global trade and the communities that produce them. The birth of global trade and its imperialistic history may well be something to be apologetic for but equally we can’t just halt it without considering what this would do to those who livelihoods depend on it. We can work for a fairer ways for this trade to operate (and I know many of the initiatives are deemed flawed but they at least acknowledge that things need to change) but I don’t think we can just stop altogether.
I managed to stick to eating from the store cupboard and not going on a supermarket or food only trip in the car. I didn’t manage to only buy things from the area I had defined, partly because the labelling is not always good (it often just says grown in UK, sometimes it does give the region), partly because I had three business meetings where I had very little control over the food or drink on offer and also because I only managed to find two English wines on sale despite this being English wine week! I also learnt I have enough food in the house to survive a siege…..and that making your own bread is good fun and a lot tastier even when it doesn’t go quite right.
So here are the things I had, I’ve noted new purchases in brackets:
Not at all local (can i ever eat them again!):
Mint and other fruit infusions (need to find a UK grown versions or use fresh from garden when possible), avocado, Serrano ham (have tracked down a few UK air dried hams), cheese – Parmesan, various Norwegian cheese. I had one truly local cheese from Suffolk as well; I can probably switch to almost 100% UK cheese going forward but would only have about 5 choices if I stuck strictly local. Cashews (oh but I love cashews there’d not be many nuts on a UK based diet – cobnuts and walnuts mainly), coffee, chocolate (imagine a future with neither chocolate of coffee……..), white tea, tinned tomatoes, spices, dried pasta (I could make my own as often as possible), chick peas, butter (Danish!), black pepper, sugar. Flatbrod, chorizo (I’ve now found a local supplier hurrah), lamb salami, Spanish wine (Rioja), white wine from Chile, cassis (looking for a UK producer), rice – risotto and basmati
Within my local area definition:
Filtered tap water (mind you I don’t know where it comes from do I?), pork meatballs, rapeseed oil, fresh herbs (from the garden), paneer (yes it was made in Leicestershire) – new purchase. Maldon salt, cider (bought), mushrooms (bought), bacon, sausages (bought), mince beef to make burger (bought – this and sausages from a good farm shop I have found). Mayonnaise and ketchup – both locally produced but might not be completely locally grown. Salad leaves (bought), homemade stock, asparagus.
From the UK but not specifically local or not known if local:
Cauliflower, spinach (bought), baby turnips, tomatoes (local ones not yet available these were IOW), yoghurt, flour and yeast to make bread (I know I can find local alternatives for the flour and will be switching). English wine (from Kent), frozen broad beans, Worcestershire sauce.
Not bad but not an outstanding performance – lets see how things go for the next three days. I’m thinking the bigger challenge will be to keep making the right choices after the seven days are up.