Little travel-in food please...I wouldn't even know where to begin with working out the food miles, carbon consumption or water usage involved in any single meal today. Both Hattie and I largely eat seasonal veg, and cook most meals from fresh produce, but more often than not - sadly, and shamefully - our food does come from a super market, even if we do try to buy local where we can.
It's no wonder that horse meat got into our food chain when the UK population has absolutely no idea where so much of it's food comes from, even the suppliers often don't know.
Not only is this unsettling on many levels, but travelling food is one of the reasons that there are so many lorries on the road, why we are laden with so much unnecessary packaging, and why we are seeing the downfall of local farms and high street shops.
Local vegOur harvest this year was by no means plentiful, due to sporadic gardening efforts at best, even poorer soil conditions, and a horrific plant to Japanese knot-weed ratio; however our much more dedicated friends all seemed far more successful in their efforts. With this in mind we considered it might be quite a nice idea to give them all a chance to show off their prize veg, whilst giving ourselves the challenge of cooking up three courses from as much local and home grown produce as possible.
We did very well on sourcing some really nice veg and fruit, and through a bit of research managed to get some fairly local dairy, salad, veg, and most important I'm sure - cider and ale.
Local pedal collectionAll the food for our evening was obviously collected by bike, including the veg offered up from guests before hand.
Going up Park street with not far off a dozen cooking apples and a giant squash, among other pick ups, was all a part of the fun of course... but doing Dundry first thing with approx 40 potatoes, small or otherwise, was ever so slightly unnecessary and possibly just a bit silly.
We tried getting everything in the food as local as possible, but there are some things; sugar, flour, yeast, etc - that are going to be very difficult if not impossible to find locally produced. Even dairy and veg, some less rural areas would struggle for local suppliers, however sitting in the heart of the South West we do fairly well for local produce... so coupled with the demands placed upon our dinner guests we managed to put on a good spread.
See below for what we made and how local we managed to get it.
Donate Your Own Veg Dinner Evening
Squash soup with rosemary pita & garlic butterSquash grown locally by Ames and Mike at their allotment here in Bristol, served with homemade rosemary pita and garlic butter**.
Rosemary from our garden, and garlic also grown at Amy and Mike’s allotment.
**butter Sainsbury’s Organic
82% Local, 81.7% Home grown
(Non- local includes: Pita dough ingredients & butter)
Squash was served with new potatoes from Anna and James’s garden near Dundry, and a mixed salad harvested at the Temple Meads Severn Project.
99% Local, 41.0% Home grown
(Non- local includes: Salad dressing ingredients)
Apple pie, apple & blackberry crumble, & homemade Somerset custardCooking apples sourced from David of Christina’s cycling club, grown in his garden in Bedminster, stewed with and without blackberrys from Helen and Alex foraged locally.
Both apple pie and apple and blackberry crumble were served with homemade custard, using Somerset dairy double crème and milk.
Pudding average 87.1% Local, 48% Home grown
(Non- local includes: Flour, salt, sugar, butter)
56.9% Home grown
A very sad spreadsheet on how we reached our percent data on local and home grown produce can be found here.
They are some numbers to try and beat next year at least... on what turned out to be a relatively package free, low cost, and low carbon dinner for eight.