E+E Column: Eating local

Two years ago we decided as a family to go supermarket free. I’m not going to lie, it was a short lived and fairly expensive venture and I missed the big weekly supermarket shop for ease of meal planning and not constantly popping to the shops. I did however, love the veg box and planning meals around what arrived. Even more than that, I enjoyed getting to know people in our local shops – the deli, cheese shop and pharmacy – places I never used to go with much regularity before. The staff in Country Cheeses in Topsham were particularly helpful at aiding in me in my cheese choices!

However, it was still with some trepidation that we decided to think about giving shopping locally another go. This time it started, oddly, with meat. After a number of conversations with vegetarian and vegan friends, I started to think more and more about animal welfare. I couldn’t keep ignoring the fact that industrial farming doesn’t treat it’s animals well. Previously I’d justified our decision to buy cheap meat in terms of affordability. But I’ve taken a different approach now. Rather than trying to ignore the guilt and eating lots of cheap meat, we’ve decided to buy local, organic, ‘happy’ meat but eat a lot less of it. We’re two thirds of a way through our monthly meat box from Riverford and enjoying it immensely – unsurprisingly, it tastes a lot better as well! Having started with meat, it seemed logical to then restart our veg box deliveries and add in some local milk and eggs to our weekly order. I’m not declaring ourselves supermarket free though – staples like tinned goods, dried fruit, grains and nappies are a heck of a lot cheaper at a big supermarket so I’m afraid I’ll still be going there for those kind of things.

Once again though, I am loving eating food that has been grown (or raised!) locally and more importantly, I think it’s absolutely great to be eating seasonal produce. Both in terms of environmental impact and arguably, in terms of our diet, eating out of season produce doesn’t sit well with me. It seems to me to be pretty sensible to get in line with the growing year and adjust our diets accordingly. Let’s face it, everyone prefers hearty casseroles and soups with lots of root vegetables in winter and prefers light salads and soft fruits in the warmer months. I think it probably suits our bodies better as well. (Disclaimer – I am not a scientist, nor have I looked at any nutritional research to support this. I am simply pondering aloud!)

Luckily, this time it doesn’t seem to be breaking the bank either! Almost a month in and although I haven’t saved any money compared to supermarket-only shopping, I haven’t spent any more either. All in all, I’m feeling pretty happy that we’re supporting local businesses, saving on ‘food miles’ and eating seasonally so I’m going to chalk it up as a success this time round so far. Here’s hoping we continue as we’ve started!

Enjoying some very locally grown veg last year!

Enjoying some very locally grown veg last year!

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