The main news this week is that we found some British sugar (hurrah) so have been enjoying some slightly sweetened food. Last weekend was a bit of a dead loss as we travelled to a large food centre we had heard about (advertised as serving local food) only to find that vegetables were just labelled ‘English’ (and others had no label) with staff unable to say where it came from.
It seems a fairly common trait amongst farm shops, particularly the smarter deli-type farm shops, to have premium local meat alongside other products from all over the place – even though the point is supposed to be to promote local produce.
In other news, I visited the Birmingham farmers market yesterday, and can report that it is not good – with few stalls and limited produce. Indeed, there were no vegetables at all and just a handful of meat stalls. There was one stall from Malvern selling apples and bottled fruit, so I decided to break the rules and buy some pickled walnuts and cherries. They were both grown in Malvern but include ingredients which we do not know the origins.
For anyone avidly following our progress:
We enter our second week of Lent on a local diet with some trepidation. In particular, the lack of sugar and salt seems to make food taste particularly bland. We do not add much of our own salt to food, but by necessity we have been making everything, including bread and pasta, which cuts out salt intake. Honey is a poor substitute for this.
Due to the lack of tea and coffee, we have been surviving on other drinks. Parsnip is an unworthy coffee substitute and you quickly get tired of the taste. I find acorn coffee more drinkable, but even that is largely unpalatable. H has taken to drinking rosemary coffee and I am drinking a lot more water and hot blackberry coffee (which is just boiling water onto frozen blackberries). I am not sure if it is caused by the lack of stimulants, but we both generally feel tired.
Meat is a particular highlight of our diet, adding taste and interest to endlessly dull meals. We have a main meat meal at the weekend with relatives and mixed a bit of what was left with vegetables in pastry for two subsequent days.
Our daughter B is holding up quite well (if you’re not aware, we were eating a non-exclusive local diet for a few weeks before Lent to practice), though she is currently away with Grandparents eating Normal Food.
Eating out is a particular problem. I am not aware of anything I can legitimately eat in terms of fast-food, so I just had a pint of milk for lunch. Yesterday I was meeting someone for lunch and resorted to a plate of chips, reasoning that it is most likely that they are local out of the whole menu.
I am also not good at baking bread, so that is a bit of a trial. Pasta is better, although quite a strain and time consuming.
My daughter is not allowed to take soup to school in a small flask.
It is a health and safety issue.
Clearly, there are more health and safety issues associated with lukewarm home-cooked vegetable soup than a plate of red-hot food from the canteen.
It is so obvious that I should have known better.
Sorry this blog is so boring. Please let me know what you would like to see here.
For anyone still awake, we had cauliflower cheese, fishcakes and home-made not-very-good pasta for recent meals.
The wife has headaches from lack of coffee, but otherwise no ill effects noticed.
Breakfast: cereals (not local)
Lunch: butternut squash soup, bread rolls, juice as before
Verdict: unfortunately not so good as some of the vegetables had burned in the slow cooker. Next time put on for less time.
Dinner: pasties from yesterday including a small amount of left-over pheasant, potatoes, swede, onion, leeks with boiled carrots and cabbage.
Verdict: really good
Hobs: on for vegetables
Slow cooker: on for soup for tomorrow
Breakfast: muffins – from freezer but homemade
Lunch: Pheasant cooked in slow cooker with vegetables
Dinner: vegetable pasties
Verdict: all good
Oven: on to cook pasties and bake bread
Hobs: on to boil vegetables
Slow cooker: on overnight to cook soup for tomorrow
Finding local food is a full time occupation. At least it feels like it sometimes. Even when you find something, you often then find reasons why it cannot be eaten under the 100 mile
We discovered today that the sprouting beans we enjoyed eating, whilst sprouted in the UK, had actually been grown from foreign seed.
It is not easy to know where to draw the line on these issues. Clearly, every agricultural crop is going to be grown from seed, which is very unlikely to be local. On the other hand, sprouting seeds are, well, just seeds which have sprouted. We’re pretty much just eating seed.
Meanwhile, we’ve been struggling with the idiosyncrasies of our slow cooker. Slow cookers use considerably less energy than other forms of cooking and allow cooking smells to slowly permeate the house. Not so good when you are trying to sleep.