It’s not always convenient to buy food from local sources but there is a great deal of value in doing so whenever possible. Living on an island means that I’m in close proximity to farm shops and markets. I find supermarkets and speciality shops great for many products - particularly the more exotic things such as Curry Pastes, Lemon Grass, Chilis, and Popadums, but I thoroughly enjoy the experience and cost effectiveness of doing so.
There are many organisations, such as the CPRE (Campaign To Protect Rural England), who work locally and nationally to stand up for the English countryside, to protect it from the threats it faces, and to shape its future for the better.
Locally, the Ibiza Preservation Fund and APAEEF work to,”contribute to the preservation of biodiversity, local vegetable varieties and autochtonous breeds, as well as to the conservation of traditional techniques and knowledge, and to incorporate the organic food production from the islands in order to improve access to healthy food to the entire population.”
The CPRE list 10 reasons to buy and eat local food;
1. You are supporting local farmers and producers 2. You get to enjoy great quality and taste 3. You are supporting your local economy 4. You cut the distance your food has to travel 5. You get good value for your money 6. You’ll find it easier to eat seasonally 7. You can cut down on wasted packaging 8. You can take better control of what’s in your food and your health 9. You can help protect your local countryside
10. You can build new connections with your community
These are all good reasons for buying local produce, my favourites are;
No. 6. You’ll find it easier to eat seasonally Seasonal food is usually abundant and delivers maximum eating pleasure for the best price. Fruit and veg in season will usually be field grown, which minimises their energy demand and carbon footprint. Local fruit and veg will usually be what is seasonally available in your area and it’s much easier to buy locally to buy seasonal than check seasonality charts: you learn to appreciate the seasons better when you shop locally. Some people also find it more enjoyable to wait for the treat of in-season strawberries or tomatoes than to eat less flavourfull ones for the rest of the year.
No. 8. You can take better control of what’s in your food, and your health More than one in ten shoppers bought local food for health reasons. We don’t know of research on its health benefits but, logically, local food could help you stick to a healthier diet in several ways. Freshness matters to how nutritious food is, as does overall quality, and local food scores well here. Local food outlets tend to sell more simple fresh or raw ingredients – and that may encourage you to cook more and take better control of what is in your food. Finally, that freshness and flavour can encourage you to hit five-a-day of fruit and veg more easily.
SustainWeb suggest that ‘The Children’s Food Trust’ have published one of the best seasonality charts.
Another good set of charts is published by WellSeasoned - links below.
Foods currently in season in the UK are; Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Savoy and Spring Green Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Kale, Parsnips, Spinach, Cucumbers, Curly and Round Lettuce, Radishes, Spring Onions, and Tomatoes.
Beef, lamb, and pork enjoy almost year-round seasonality, although lamb has the shortest season.
If you enjoy sustainable fish, Herring is on the list for April.
There are also many foods, ‘In-Store’, which is harvested when in season then stored to extend its availability. These include potatoes and onions.
A delicious sounding meal for April could be a Herring and Potato Salad (link below), a colourful mixed salad with a dressing, and some steamed broccoli.
Locally for us, particularly with the advent of primavera (Spring), the main theme in seasonal veg is ‘Green’.
Spinach, Artichoke, Leeks, Spring Onions, Cabbage, Avocado, Swiss Chard, Green Peppers, Celery, Brussel Sprouts, Cucumbers, Asparagus, and many types of lettuce dominate the markets. More colourful veggies such as Beetroot, Turnip, Aubergine, Cauliflower, Red Peppers, Red Cabbage, and onions mushrooms, and potatoes.
A staple favourite recipe of mine is a Thai Yellow Curry with vegetables.
Ingredients 6 Tbsp Yellow Curry paste 4 Tbsp Coconut Oil 800ml of coconut milk - 2 regular tins 1 medium sweet potato chopped into 2cm cubes, approx. 200g 200g potato - I prefer new, chopped in half or quartered so as not too big 2 medium white onions roughly chopped 2 cups of spinach 200g large mushrooms (white) quartered 200g cherry tomatoes whole Finely chopped dried fruit - I use 2 slices of pineapple or mango Coriander Sultanas or raisins
Method I like a veg curry to be thick, the veg's soft but not putty, a little sweet, & a little spicy.
1. Gently heat the curry paste and coconut oil together for no more than 2 minutes to soften the paste - very important! 2. Slowly pour in coconut milk and keep stirring (medium heat, 1 - 2 minutes). Note: Don't let the coconut milk to get too hot too quickly or it may separate 3. Turn up heat, add potatoes, onion, sweet potato, and dried fruit, and bring to the boil stirring regularly. 4. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft, stirring regularly. 5. Once done, turn off heat and stir in the spinach until softened. 6. Add the mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, cover, and allow to sit for no more than 15 minutes - the residual heat will gently cook the tomatoes and mushrooms without overcooking them. 7. Sprinkle with some chopped coriander and a small dish of raisins to sprinkle over the top once served to plate. Not too many, the sweetness can overpower the dish.
I like to serve this with Basmati Rice, a Thai Tomato Salad, a Cucumber, Lime and Coriander (Cilantro) Salad, and a mixed Raita or a Greek Tzatsziki, and popadoms.
Please click the title links below for more information