For the entire month of April we will be in a challenge to only eat local food, organised by the good people at Happyzine. The boundary set for local is 200km from your house. Which is actually quite generous considering where we live is often referred to as the bread basket of the nation. We are in the heart of a rich agricultural and horticultural community and surrounded by many innovative small, medium and large food businesses.
We are going to do our very best in this challenge, however I do want to point out that I have two very hungry boys who are bottomless pits that are next to impossible to fill. So I won’t do anything that will interfere with growth spurts and deny basic nutrients that will silence the “I’m hungry” that is always set to the delightful tune of moan. Therefore I will allow wheat based products across our threshold as things would fall apart at the seams without bread and weetbix.
As a raw material wheat has been grown nearby this summer with vast fields recently harvested of their golden crops. It is not only possible to grow wheat locally, there was even a field at the end of our road and that crop had to go somewhere, and who’s to say it didn’t end up in bread or weetbix – both of with are manufactured within my 200km radius. Even more locally I grow wheat in my garden and will be planting some very soon as autumn is the perfect time to sow it for a spring harvest. Ok so it won’t be ready in time for the challenge – but the intention is there. However loosely, we will cling to our wheat based products, Hubby the Un-Gardener and I will try to keep our consumption to as minimum and it may even benefit us, but the boys will not starve.
I think our wild card ingredient may have to be sugar. While it is processed within my 200km radius, even I am pushing it to say it is local as sugar cane isn’t something grown here and definitely not within 200km. I did try growing sugar beet once. Maybe I should try again as most of Europe get their sugar from sugar beet. But it is such a small window between being not ready yet and being past it and bitter and disguising! The thing is I have a lot of crops that need processing in one way or another and sugar is generally a key ingredient. So is vinegar. Maybe If I preserve my harvest in the normal way – but then don’t eat it in April. Is that cheating? I’d hate for my crops to go to waste.
There is also a strong push for coffee to be the wildcard ingredient, as Hubby the Un-Gardener likes his coffee. You should have seen the look on his face when I suggested we make a coffee substitute from dandelion root! I know you can buy coffee plants, but as it isn’t ideal climatic conditions the yield is said to be a little poor. Does drinking it because you are growing it make it acceptably local – even if it is not actually your coffee beans? Or is this a stretch too far? Or could it fall into the 5%?
Part of this challenge allows for 5% for incidentals like salt and pepper and spices. But how can you tell how much of your diet is 5% before you have actually eaten it. If we accidentally eat too much of something from out of zone then can we absolve ourselves by eating loads apples from our tree to bring the numbers back into alignment? Can 95 apples compensate for say one ‘mistaken’ coffee?
The other concession I guess I should confess about straight up front is chocolate. I have kids and April has Easter. Can you just imagine the distress if the Easter Bunny passes us by or offers up something not considered standard Easter Bunny offerings. I’d have to start saving for some kind of traumatic therapy as childhood dreams are crushed for the sake of my own selfish means. I feel I can justify this in that I am growing carob trees. The fact that my trees are still less than 20cm is what is really holding me back from messing with the Easter Bunny’s offerings. And although I don’t believe there is a local grower of cacao, there is an egg manufacture within 200km and supporting small local business is just as important as sourcing local food. Is this a good enough excuse to include chocolate? It’s for the children.
Come again soon – I am about to empty the cupboard of illicit products and go shopping for new and approved local ingredients.
Sarah the Gardener : o )