Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Trucks vs Green houses - The struggle to stay green

Yesterday evening, the Boy and I defied our usual domestic routine and went food shopping, an act that is often relegated to a Saturday morning when, as we all know, the supermarkets are generally absolutely rammed. Take it from me, if you get the chance, I'd recommend reserving a weekday evening for your trip to the supermarket as it's generally a much more enjoyable experience. I digress. Anyway, it was extremely quiet and, with us both in excitable moods and with time to spare, we dashed around the fruit and veg aisles revelling in British-ness. It seems that, since I heard tell that the Jersey Royal potatoes were coming into season, Britain has bloomed; we were staggered at just how many products on offer in our local Sainsbury's were grown in the UK. Smug, we crammed our trolley with two types of asparagus (hoping to compare their merits later in the week), tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, onions, radishes, beetroot and parsnips – each one baring the proud Union Jack symbol along with the name of their grower and a homely English county printed on the packet.

Don't get me wrong – this isn't about patriotism. I love most countries (apart from the ones that say or do mean things). This is about seasonality and food miles. I am a firm believer that food is better, in both quality and taste, when ingredients are as fresh as possible. As such, it stands to reason that good will be freshest if it is grown in season and close to where it is needed so that it doesn't need to travel far to be used. Limiting the time (and therefore the distance) from soil to plate is the key to delicious food. Arguably, it's also the key to healthy food too because ingredients that are naturally yummy require less salt and fat to make them taste good. Still, that's another article – and debate! – in itself. All of this is all set off by the fact that society is becoming much more environmentally aware and while we're being told en masse to take public transport and limit our use of cars, it makes sense that our food should be shipped as little as possible in order to help our ailing environment.

It was interesting, after our smug happiness of the previous eve, to read this thread. It never really occurred to me that it wasn't as simple as buying food that is grown or made locally. I'll be checking back with interest on Friday to see what the 'experts' think on the matter.

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