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Home » Nutrition

Eating local food

Submitted by on Monday, 20 December 2010 Loading Add to favourites  10 Comments

woman eating pomegranateWe have a fantastic Change the World Wednesday challenge this week.

Reduce footprints has asked us to find and enjoy local foods for a month. We have to research what items are local in our area and then incorporate them into our family meals.

This ties in beautifully with something that has been on my mind a lot recently – the future of our food security.

Food security

I’m not thinking about this in a negative way at all; au contraire! I’m approaching things from a positive angle – I’m thinking about how I can increase the amount of fresh, local and seasonal food I eat, reduce my carbon footprint and become more self sufficient.

Food miles

To be honest it seems unthinkable to eat local food at the moment and I greatly admire locavores; it is, after all, the most natural and healthy way to eat. I’ve grown up with the luxury of being able to buy what I want from where I want. Bananas from the Caribbean islands? No problem! A craving for strawberries in December? Import them from the other side of the world! Rice? Buy it in from India.

Imported food

As a vegetarian, the locality of my food is something that is on my mind a lot. Whereas Mr Green and Little Miss Green can buy and eat local meat, my rice and lentils come from Asia. In addition Mr Green and Little Miss Green can buy unpackaged food, whereas most of mine comes in plastic bags.

Local food

For today then, I’m going to record what I eat and where it comes from. In a months time I’ll revisit this post after spending time checking out local food and see if I can eat for a day from my local area!

Breakfast

Porrage made with oats and soy milk served with yogurt and stewed apples and blueberries

Oats – Cheshire in the UK (150 miles away)
Soy milk from China or Brazil (5,500 – 6000 miles)
Yogurt from Wales (100 miles)
Apples from a UK orchard (10 miles)
Blueberries from the US (3500 miles)

Verdict: I’m giving myself 7 / 10 for breakfast. Apart from the apples I couldn’t eat anything else without transportation, but at least 3 out of 5 ingredients are from the UK and one is so close I could get to without a car. I guess ‘local’ is open to discussion too; how far is local when it comes to food?

Snack

Tinned apricots from South Africa (6000 miles)
Yogurt from Wales (100 miles)

Verdict:  5/10 Hmmm, those apricots suddenly taste of oil

Lunch

Jacket potato with red lentils, baked beetroot, broccoli and carrots

Potato – local UK farm 5 miles
Red lentils – Turkey (3000 miles)
Beetroot – local UK farm 15 miles
Broccoli – Spain (1000 miles)
Carrots – UK farm – 100 miles

Verdict 6/10 If I can source some UK broccoli (which I probably can) then I could easily reduce the air miles on this meal.

Dinner

Buttered rice with avocado and kale

Rice – Himalayas (4500 miles)
Butter – UK (100 miles)
Avocado – USA (3500 miles)
Kale – local UK farm 5 miles

Verdict 5/10; a simple meal with so few ingredients and a huge footprint…

Well it seems I’ve clocked up about 28,000 miles just to eat today. When you consider I’ve given up long haul flights as part of my commitment to a sustainable lifestyle, this has been a real eye opener.

What about you – do you eat locally? Any tips to share?

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10 Comments »

  • When one really stops to consider where their food comes from, it is amazing how far it travels. The problem, in my opinion, is that it has become less profitable to grow foods locally … so it’s often hard to find a complete diet which was produced within 100 miles (my definition of “local”). The “big guys” now produce certain foods in centralized locations and then ship it out. They make money but it hurts the earth. I tried to eat strictly local but found that my health suffered because there just wasn’t a large enough variety of foods. So now, I check labels and ask questions and buy the food which is grown as close as possible. Another tip which I’ve embraced is that local doesn’t always mean fresh so … I check markets for local preserves, frozen foods, etc.

    Wonderful post, Mrs. Green! Here’s wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday and all the best in the new year!

  • Mrs Green says:

    Hi 🙂 I agree that it’s become less profitable to grow foods, that is certainly the case in the UK where farmers are often paid NOT to farm the land! Thanks for your definition of ‘local’ – I’ll bear 100 miles in mind and thanks for sharing your tips too. I’m fascinated to see what I can discover in my local area; I’ve already found butter – yum!

  • Jennifer says:

    I just finished reading a book called Plenty, about two journalists in Canada who live the 100 mile diet for a year. They had to really go out there, talk to local farmers, meet local fishermen (they gave up being vegetarian for the project, though they did eventually find locally grown beans), and learn how to preserve food and cook from scratch. It’s made me pay more attention to what I eat and where it comes from. I’m starting to realize how lucky I am to live in California, which grows almost everything and harvests food all year round.

  • Mrs Green says:

    @Jennifer: Hi Jennifer, the book sounds great – thank you so much for the heads up. It seems like you have a lot in California; a friend keeps telling me to emigrate, maybe I should head your way. 😉

  • SherryGreens says:

    California sounds nice, I agree! It takes a lot of planning and foresight to do this, I commend your efforts to track it for one day. I suspect my day would be even worse! However! Today I purchased herb plants for an window herb garden (basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, etc). So little by little.

  • Mrs Green says:

    @SherryGreens: Thanks Sherry; it was quite time consuming, but great to gain the knowledge. Well done on getting the herb plants; good luck with growing them!

  • Borislava says:

    Hi all,
    I really need your help and ideas on the herb garden thing. I have always grown my own herbs (not willing to throw away whole bags for just a few leaves of freezing them), but I have recently moved to a first floor app in Rome overlooking a really busy and dusty street and I’m really worried about what my plants will be filled with.
    I have some plans for a small green house on one of the balconies, but I’m not sure if a layer of plastic can keep the pollution out ( and I feel much the same every time I open a window to get some “fresh” air in)
    Apart from swapping the apartment for a country house, is there anything you would recommend?

  • Mrs Green says:

    @Borislava: Most herbs will thrive indoors; especially ones like basil who like it hot. I would choose a sunny indoor windowsill and sow a few pots with various herb seeds; they’ll be very happy.

    Shade tolerant plants such as mint can be put in a less sunny position.

    So basically, become an indoor gardener if you’re worried about the pollution!

    Also, adding houseplants to your home will keep the indoor air healthy and less polluted – this article might interest you: http://littlegreenblog.com/green-home/environment-issues/house-plants-pollutants/

  • Borislava says:

    Thank you for the tip, I’ll try it again (my first indoor basil and parsley plants unfortunately died, so I was obviously doing something wrong)

  • Mrs Green says:

    They like lots of sun and shouldn’t be over watered. With basil you can let it wilt before watering 😉