My personal “local local” challenge

The Women’s Food & Farming Union www.wfu.org.uk  recently launched a London branch www.londonwfu.org.uk and I was invited to become its Co-Chair – an invitation I gladly accepted.

I had been noticing for a while a growing interest amongst shoppers (and eaters) to eat what’s near them (perhaps “local” has become the new “organic”?), for the sake of the planet and for sheer eating pleasure.

Because let’s face, long distance transportation and extended periods of refrigeration are never going to improve the eating quality of fresh food.

Tackling the rural-urban divide has been one of the WFU’s most important philosophies and to start the ball rolling WFU London have come up with a challenge to help bridge that gap.

We hope to do this by encouraging shoppers to re-connect with local independent retailers and British farmers and producers of good, honest food as well as to raise awareness of the need to collectively do our bit for the country’s carbon footprint.

In a nutshell, the “look local” challenge is about stripping away the convenience, perhaps laziness of food shopping, by forcing yourself to really consider the wider issues behind some of the food choices you make.

To name but a few: food sustainability, carbon footprint, self-sufficiency, the future of British farming, food related ill-health in animals and humans …

It’s an opportunity to explore your local neighbourhood and discover local food shops, markets, food co-ops and community box schemes which you may have overlooked in the past.

The WFU London’s “look local” campaign is not, I hasten to add, an effort to demonize the supermarkets. The Big Four (Tesco, Asda, Morrison and Sainsbury’s) between them sell c75% of food produced in Britain, so that would be a bit of own-goal.

Now is the season of plenty in England, time to indulge that summer luxury of eating what’s been grown + harvested within shouting distance.

I won’t for a moment suggest however that this is an easy challenge, but I believe it could be a very worthwhile one if it can help you to find a solution to the modern food dilemma:

how to make better quality food something you can + should enjoy every day.

I believe this is possible not only through clever meal planning and recycling (for example roast a chicken on day 1, bones for stock, leftovers in a sandwich filling or risotto.) but also by finding economical ways of buying the best, such as buying direct from farms using home delivery and scouting vegetable stalls for good deals on seasonally abundant vegetables.

Granted, there is much to consider and the commitment to this different way of shopping, cooking and eating means a little planning, knowledge, sacrifice and asks that you take on more responsibility.

Over the next 4 weeks I will be documenting here how I get on and I hope to include tips on what to buy and where, some price comparisons and no doubt share my delight, frustrations and concerns at what I find.

My idea is to empower you to “look local” and to enjoy it!

Best,

Monique

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