It is a quiet Wednesday morning. It is raining. I had intended to plant out the last seedlings today, to feed the slugs as it were, but will hold out until this weather system passes. But that is ok. I have plenty of things to get on with and no distractions of family demands or other places to be until this afternoon. It promises to be a productive day nevertheless.
I was reading a blog post by Lis at This Simple Life recently, and it was such a stimulating read as she described their work in their garden, how they are preserving the harvest and their serenely beautiful, yet simple, life in northern France. I am so pleased to have found her blog as her writing is sublime, instantly transporting me to her home and on her adventures. Lis and her husband are indeed living my dream life! In her post, Lis delves in deep to unpick the issues surrounding the concept of eating a regional or local diet. Lis highlights some pertinent questions about this way of eating that inspired me to reexamine my views and whether the whole concept is achievable.
It is a discussion I have had with myself for some time. I have touched on it here previously, and while I stand by the value of eating a local or regional diet, I acknowledge that I don’t always follow my own advice. I don’t ever intend to sound preachy, but I appreciate that any effort to encourage others to a new way of thinking or doing is, in essence, sermonising. It comes as no welcome to the time and money poor. So, is it better to live your message and allow the successes and failures, as they come, to provide inspiration and guidance to those who seek it? A quiet message. One that welcomes you to join in. I think it is.
I offer this, not so much as a public declaration or promise, but a quietly expressed intention to tread an old path to what and how we should eat.
My views on what and how we should eat are nothing new. It is how our great-grandmothers ate. The foods they grew in the garden, the staples either produced on farms nearby or brought in a couple of times a year, eggs from the henhouse, meat from the family pig or the local butcher, and dairy produced by the family cow or goat or locally sourced. These were the foods that sustained and deeply nourished a population. This way of eating was, for the most part, affordable and accessible to all.
I have known this and tried to live by this model, but there is something about the way I have approached it that fails me, and I am left somewhere in the middle of where I was and where I want to be. It is here that Lis’s post helped in getting me unstuck. Her wholesome meal of roast pork with chestnut stuffing, and autumn veggies and caramelised apple. All seasonal and essentially local to her. While we couldn’t eat a roast at every meal, it demonstrates the simplicity and honesty of eating a local and seasonal diet. Our meals needn’t be overcomplicated. Our decisions about what we eat needn’t involve such exasperating deliberation.
It just requires some observation. And this is where our current food system confuses and derails us. When the supermarkets, and I daresay the farmer’s markets, inundate us with an abundance of choice, how can we find the truth? We have had access to such a wide variety of food that we are no longer satisfied with less. Would the reality of our local environments capacity to feed us cause us to feel afraid and vulnerable? Would we feel content to simplify our lives and our diets in acknowledgement of these realities? I will be honest and admit that if I knew the true extent of our food security, I would feel somewhat panicked. It is natural, I think. But with fear must come responsibility. It is with a sense of this that I intend to find a way to the old path. Through trial and error, to arrive at a place that is both sustainable to us and the environment.
To be sustainable to us, it must provide ample nourishment, be affordable, and be achievable in a way that does not define our lives but is an element that enhances and supports us. To be sustainable to the environment is perhaps a more complex issue. Nevertheless, it must come to the forefront of our decisions around food security.
I will attempt to switch my thinking around sourcing and preparing food. Instead of sourcing food according to a recipe, I will cook according to what I have sourced. Not revolutionary thinking! But it will make me more mindful of the foods available and whether it is seasonal and local. I love my cookbooks and find immense pleasure in reading and using them. However, recipes are tools to help us prepare the food we have. They are not scripture. It will take me time to adapt to this thinking.
I have a picture forming in my mind of how my seasonal and local diet will look. I foresee there will be some challenges and that some of the habits and attachments to food that I have set up over the years will resist the changes I will make. But I am curious, and even a bit excited, at what impact these changes will have. I hope there will be fewer trips to the supermarket and that my fridge, freezer and pantry are stocked only with whole, seasonal foods produced locally or by me. I anticipate good, honest food on the table. Uncomplicated and unpretentious. That is the goal. The steps to get there I will discover along the way.
I will share my journey here as I go, and you can decide if it is something you would like to do yourself.
As always, until the next time, take care.