• In season now: May

    New this month: Asparagus! The food of gods... and carrots are back.

    Still in season from last month: cauliflower, chard, green cabbage, salad leaves, main-crop potatoes (from store), salad leaves, sea kale, spring greens, rhubarb

    Goodbye till next year to: Purple sprouting broccoli (sniff, sniff), leeks, stored parsnips, forced rhubarb

  • What I’m doing here

    This all started when I picked the first strawberries from my new allotment.

    I'd never been so enraptured or so excited by food. It was a shock to find that anything could taste so good.

    So what - I'd never had strawberries before?

    No - all the strawberries I'd had were shop-bought, like as not flown in from intensive growers in Spain or Chile, and eaten in winter when strawberries should be a distant summer memory.

    It revolutionised my thinking about the fresh food we eat every day. I started to wonder if you got the same amazing taste from all types of food grown and eaten in season. And then I decided to do something about it.

    The Year of Eating Seasonally is my little experiment to find out what it's really like not to have it all. The only fruit and veg I and my family are going to eat in 2008 will be what's growing in the ground at the time (or, in winter, what I can get out of store).

    I want to find out if the hungry gap is really as hungry as everyone says it is: whether you're really eating nothing but cabbage all winter; and whether you miss strawberries in December.

    Along the way I hope I'll save a few tons of carbon being released into the atmosphere on my behalf, as I won't be requiring those French beans flown from Chile, thanks very much. And I hope I'll be rediscovering what food can really taste like.

    If you have any comments, please feel free to post them anywhere you like - or you can email me at sallywhite@hotmail.com.

A man after my own heart

Domestic goddess rating: 75% (100 mile-an-hour mum today again) Five-a-day: 4/5 Food miles: about 40

On the menu: Toast, jam ‘n’ juice (breakfast); umm.. a chocolate biscuit or three and some two-day-old crisps (scavenger’s lunch in empty kitchen between finishing work and haring off to pick up children); baked potatoes, ham and salad (post-swimming supper)

Phew… I’m always a bit relieved when Tuesdays are over. We’ve solved the horrific timetabling problem caused by swimming lessons but it still means we get home very late – at times like these I send a silent prayer of thanks to whoever invented the oven timer.

I’ve been listening to the radio again – Radio 4’s Today programme, this morning – and discovered there’s a kindred spirit out there. After a rather alarming bit about how much food prices are going to rise in the next few years, they interviewed Tim Lang, a professor at City University’s Centre for Food Policy (didn’t realise there was such a thing and am vaguely comforted that there is, really).

Here’s what he had to say, and why I think I might really embarrass myself and get in touch to say thanks:

After criticising the government for failing to take a lead on our food supply and simply leaving it to the markets, here’s what he suggests as an alternative approach: “Most money is going into hi-tech solutions, biofuels, genetic engineering etc, but I think really the one that I support, and that I think is the one really which ultimately ticks all the boxes and addresses all the fundamentals… is sustainable food systems.”

Which means the UK growing more of its own food. As regular readers will know, our ability (or rather, lack of it) to feed ourselves is something I’ve been banging on about quite regularly since I started this – simply because I’ve been shocked at how little British food I’ve been able to find in the shops, even that which is in season.

Professor Lang, however, believes change is in the air whether we like it or not: “Even the food companies are beginning to have to address that, are beginning to think maybe that’s the way we’ve got to go,” he says. “You’ve got large companies which recognise the era of cheap food is over, and they’re not going to be able to provide the cheap food we’ve all got used to, so we’ve got to have a sustainable food system.”

And he goes on: “At the moment we’re probably only producing about 60% of our food – that’s the amount that we produced at the end of the Second World War. Now, the question I’m going to be asking tonight [in a lecture entitled Are We Sleepwalking Into A Crisis?] is how far will this home food production plummet before government and companies start seeing it as a real issue.”

The solution, he believes, is simple: “I think we should produce more – it’s a good use of land. Why are we buying food from other people which should be feeding developing countries?… I personally think we’ve got to grow much more of our own fruit and vegetables, those are the things we need to have more attention to.”

I couldn’t agree with you more, Professor. I may be getting a bit optimistic, but I’m beginning to get a definite feeling there’s something in the air: a growing consensus of opinion, a move towards a better way of doing things. It’s got to make sense, hasn’t it?

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3 Responses

  1. Tim Lang is great – so sensible and knowledgeable. There’s a good interview with him from the end of last year on the Radio 4 Food programme’s website (hopefully it’s still available if you are interested in listening to it!)

  2. Couldn’t agree more. He was on the PM programme the other night too, talking about food security with such a measured, sensible attitude. I think he’s great!

  3. I am a minster researching the bible statement that King David was a ‘Man after God’s own heart’ and found your site. As a keen gardener your site was great. thanks a lot.

    steve

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