I was reading a blog about 100 mile diet early this morning. A lady, living in Canada and some friends, decided to try and feed themselves on organic food from within a 100 mile radius of where they live. (They did not grow it for some reason), which reminded me of an article in the Daily Mail a few weeks ago, I was horrified to learn the distances that our basic foodstuffs travel to get to the supermarkets. I am sure that most of you reading are well away of similar news articles. Often things in the paper are exaggerated of mis-reported, I am well aware of that, but this information was actually true. Including in the list of items were things like potatoes, that are imported during our traditional growing season, ditto peas and strawberries, tomatoes – the list went on - which seems crazy.
I knew that exotic fruit and vegetables were obviously imported, but not the distance, and also vegetables out of ‘season’, but the rest was quite a shock that the average weekly shop would have travelled 10,000 miles!
The article appeared on a week when I was rather worn out from the never ending work up the lottie, as much as I love it my body was protesting. I was also feeling guilty at driving my little car the mile there and the mile back, thinking that it was not a very eco friendly thing to do. I understood that I always take a car full of stuff up there and often bring back more than I can carry.
I am usually also ‘fit to drop’ and a rather bedraggled scarecrow by the end of my toils. The thought of walking through the village looking like that without an explanation sandwich board on my front and back saying something like: JUST SPENT 2/3/4 HOURS WORKING IN POURING RAIN/SEARING HEAT/SNOW/WIND, SHIFTING PIG MANURE, DIGGING WEEDS, etc to justify my appearance filled me with horror. It wouldn’t be such a problem living in a town where you might walk right through it and not see anyone you know. But village life is different.
I am digressing a bit, but it brought to mind an incident that happened a few years ago. I used to go on four mile circular walks on the lanes outside the village every morning come rain, snow or shine. Of course you have to dress up in proper walking clothes in the winter to help protect you from the elements. These include proper walking boots, waterproof trousers and jacket on top of several layers of clothes, trousers tucked into socks as it is easier to wash mud caked socks everyday than waterproof trousers. Unbeknown to me, a ‘neighbour’ who lives farther up the lane must have observed me on these occasions.
I remember going as a visitor to a meeting in the village hall some months later to hear a Speaker that I was interested in. This ‘neighbour’ was chairing the meeting and she announced in a loud voice, ‘Doesn’t ‘lottie’ look nice for a change. What a difference ‘lottie’. (not my real name) Needless to say that I was both embarrassed and hurt, blushing down to my toe nails my sense of humour kicked in and I replied, ‘It has been said in the past, that I scrub up well’. In hindsight I think it is hilarious and something that would be perfect for a sitcom. - I still have the same hair colour, but my figure has change bit!
Living at then end of a lane without passing traffic, some people only see me when I am just going up and down to my lottie or walking the lanes. I take a different route to the village centre. But in all areas of our lives people see us in different mode don’t they? I had just forgotten about that part of life after I retired.
Anyway, back to the distance our food travels. After reading the article and finding out the true cost to grow, and transport the food, in terms of the environment – fuels for providing heat, manufacturing pesticides to spray them with, the packaging, vehicles,ship,planes and all the rest of it – completely freed me of any guilt at using my car! I would like to avoid any food that travels many miles, but realistically it is virtually impossible unless you have a small holding and have orchards and livestock.
I now appreciate my home grown food even more. Not just for it’s better taste, but when I look at my plate I think, ……that has travelled a mile, the eggs a couple of hundred yards (soon to be feet when I get my chickens after Christmas all being well). It is a nice feeling I have to admit growing your own food, despite the ‘learning curve’ and failures. I have a freezer full of vegetables to last us to next harvest. O.K. there are shortages, of peas, no Brussels this year, but someone will have grown them, not many apple windfalls, or peppers, no aubergines, or cauliflower, but I can live without most of those, or just buy some.
My biggest gap is fruit, we eat lots, apples, pears, bananas, but I think I can justify buying them, even though once the British Cox’s are not available and the apples will be flown all the way from New Zealand – but we can’t give up on everything we love can we?
So as the torrential rain beats down incessantly and I can't get out and do what I want to do, I shall be donning my old coat - on top of my designer clothes - and trudging 10 yards to my garage for more of those orange things. So think of me, slaving over a kitchen sink in pink marigold gloves that will probably clash dreadfully with the carrots and give me a headache - but it will take my mind off thinking of anything other than this lovely Victorian carrot man. It will be a shame to slice him up and freeze him but it will make my chore more interesting!
Keep your fingers crossed for sunshine this week or you'll not know what turns up in this blog - neither do I come to think of it!