The locavore diet: all peaches and cream? Not quite…

First published here.

A quick look at how I felt about Day One (July 20th 2015) of the locavore diet. It wasn’t all peaches and cream, needless to say. In fact, not even close.


Today was Day One of the diet and already I've stumbled and fallen. Me and my partner in crime, Jo, agreed that we could eat any perishables still left from the previous week - a transition week, if you will. All the fruit and veg left over from last week are fair game. Great. I, however, live with a person who is very strict when it comes to commitment - and is especially serious about food. Although we've just returned from a weeklong trip to Pembrokeshire - eating very locally (fish, potatoes, laverbread, cockles, salmon, cheese, butter... the list goes on), on Day One he still refused to eat a breakfast of Welsh bread, Welsh butter and Welsh cheese. So we went without. The hardest part for me was not waking up to a hot cup of tea. I stared forlornly into the tea and coffee cupboard, wishing that we'd worked out how to grow those special plants in our climate en masse. Instead, I found a few measly looking mint and lemon balm leaves in the yard and covered them in boiling water - which, in hindsight, is probably a really good practice for the mornings. Drinking a cup of hot water to flush your system – surely my skin will be glowing in days?


When lunchtime arrived we ate halloumi, red pepper and cucumber wraps with a twist of lime. Nothing local about that - but it was within the proviso of using up perishables, so we relaxed into the idea of being in a transition week - at least we has a lemon or two left in the veg basket. 

Then, slowly, as our hunger grew, we started to freak out.

I told him not to worry, I had a great idea. A new organic food shop had opened just down the cycle track from us. We put on our waterproofs and got on our bikes (which felt very fitting when visiting an organic food shop). When we arrived it smelled like incense and was full of people just hanging out - which immediately made my boyfriend leave. He's not one for sandalwood. Sweating in the humidity I asked one of the employees for local produce. Just those, he said as he pointed to a pile of 6 courgettes in a basket. We’re about organic, not local, he said. (cue the benefits-of-organic spiel - from which I felt I shouldn't - or couldn't interrupt). When I explained the project he showed me their stock of various fresh produce, all from Lancashire (all organic), just outside the limits of the research. He said they did have some British quinoa, but he wasn't sure where it was from, and there was currently none in stock. He said maybe a barter system would be good, or growing my own. I sulkily pointed out that this was an experiment and it's possible I might fail, to which he sympathetically smiled and told me to wait until August and September when the shelves will be full. The one thing they did have, after a rummage for watercress and bean sprouts, were eggs. Local eggs. I greedily grabbed the last two boxes, wanting to walk out the door feeling triumphant after all. However the overarching dismay was as wet as my rain sodden hair, and the shopping bag felt extremely light as we plodded on.

The supermarket

Next stop - the local supermarket to see how we'd do there. The fruit and vegetable aisles provided surprisingly good results. Mushrooms from Somerset, Strawberries from Herefordshire, potatoes from Suffolk (might need to check that's within 100 miles actually), tomatoes and spring onions from Worcestershire - and lots of courgettes again. I did buy quite a lot of things that are ‘UK produce’ in my desperation; cider vinegar, rapeseed oil, milk, yoghurt and oats - which I will research now and potentially forfeit once the transition week is over.

On leaving the supermarket I hurriedly called the grower from Sims Hill Shared Harvest - the veg box scheme of which I’m a member, leaving a rushed message asking for a bigger box, and perhaps a swap of some produce which isn't local, for those that are – followed swiftly by a call to another farmer friend who runs the salad bag scheme Edible Futures to sign up (life saver) and a last call to a mate who is the Animal Manager on a therapeutic working farm just up the road, Elm Tree Farm.

"I need your eggs," I whispered, "All of them."

Fortunately these good people talked me through the farmers markets and shops in Bristol to get my local food, complimented by encouraging messages of support.

Maybe it's not going to be so bad after all. Only time will tell.
Read more from Holly here.

The Locavore Test

Blog first published here.

As part of the Going Local Going Green research project we’re embarking on a 100-mile diet – or the ‘locavore diet' as I have come to call it. In other words, only eating food that has been grown, processed and sourced within 100 miles of Bristol.

From the moment we start, I will adopt the locavore test to see if what I'm consuming is local or not. When I walk into a cafĂ© I will conduct the locavore test. When I head to a friends house for a cup of tea – I will ask the inevitable (and occasionally annoying) questions of the locavore test. Before I bake a cake – I'll locavore test the ingredients. It may become a thing. (It also may not become a thing because I fear I’m slowly becoming that person – the difficult one that claims to have a wheat intolerance, or not eat animal products, or who can only eat raw, fallen foods from the trees of Eden and so on.)

How are we doing it?

We’re not crazy – although we may appear to be slipping into some version of mildly odd to the untrained eye. We’re undertaking this project to help us work out what we mean by ‘local’. After all, we are doing a research project that falls under the label of ‘Going Local, Going Green’. When we talk about local, be it the local shops or the local area, what is it that actually makes it local? Is it the fact it’s in walking distance, that it’s familiar to us, or is it more than that? When it comes to food it gets even more complicated. Did I buy it locally?  Was it processed locally? Was it grown or bred locally? Were the seeds local/ heritage/ native to the country or region? Where did the soil come from? These are all things we have to think about (maybe not the soil bit for now). Taking inspiration from the Canadian couple Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon in their book ‘Plenty’, and the amazing food hubs emerging throughout the UK with the Open Food Network, we’re slowly developing a feeling of what ‘local food’ means in the contemporary sense of the word.

What have we done so far?

So far we’ve set dates to start the diet. Then changed them. Then set them again, then changed them again. My initial lassaiz faire attitude is starting to back fire on me as the fear and the list of ‘can’t haves’ slowly builds. We’ve been keeping food diaries in order to start thinking about where our food comes from. We’ve been researching certain products, such as flour, oil and tea to try and find UK born and bred versions of these, which we will report back on as we go. We’re going to keep video diaries, blogs and reviews on how we’re doing once the diet is underway. We’re compiling the aforementioned list of ‘can’t haves’, which will hopefully eventually become a list of ‘substitutes to’.  And we’re mainly talking about it. A lot. To anyone that will listen. Friends, family, strangers and people who might know things that we need to know – like Graham from Bertha’s Pizza who travelled the west coast of the USA in hope to find the best blend of flour for his pizza, or Jo Elliot from First Great Western on why they’ve decided to source from 15 miles around the train tracks in the South West for the food supplied on the train.

But - why?

There are loads of reasons to experiment with eating locally from supporting the local economy to understanding where food comes from. I know there are important elements like carbon footprints and food miles – but my main concern is that we’re supporting farmers that look after the soil beneath our feet. And that the food we eat is tasty.

My reasons:

1. I want to support local farmers and growers
2. I want to be aware of the rich diversity of food in our local area
3. I want to understand the implications of globalisation on our food system
4. I want to reconnect with my food

What do we think will happen?

Who knows? Maybe it will be easy. Maybe it will be really hard.  I’m guessing it will be more of the former due to our location – we’re not based in the Sahara Desert after all.  Yet I do still keep getting these waves of fear. What about coffee? What about tea? What if I can’t find any oats for my daily porridge? What about my hangover cure of a Big Mac Meal with a Coca-cola and packet of salt’n’vinegar crisps? WHAT ABOUT BOOZE?

Below you can find a list of rules we will stoically stick by…. and a couple of caveats. There needs to be some exceptions to the rules, right? Follow us on this blog with the locavore diet tag, or on twitter@goinglocalgreen and we’ll let you know how we’re getting on.


    • All food and drink must be grown and/or produced within 100 miles of Bristol
    • Cornwall is included in the 100 miles (it basically is anyway…)
    • All elements of the food or drink product must be from within 100 miles: if it is bread, the flour, water, oil, salt and any other inputs and ingredients must be from within 100 miles.
    • The same goes for booze. All ingredients must come from within 100 miles of Bristol.
    • If we can’t get the information needed to determine where the whole product is from and we’re buying it from a shop – it’s not allowed.
    • If travelling further afield than Bristol, the 100 miles starts with where the individual is located.
    • Household ingredients that have already been bought are not allowed to be used for the trial period of month one (then we'll see...)
    • When housemates or lovers are cooking for us, the meals are subject to the diet.
    • Coffee shops mean consuming strictly only local teas/ coffees/ drinks. Sorry.
    • Food at work meetings that cannot be avoided. ie. crew catering at Glastonbury or a work meal provided for you.
    • If you are eating out, try to go for the meal and drinks with the most local ingredients. This doesn't mean we get to eat out every night. We promise. 
    • If we can’t get the information needed to determine where the whole dish is from and we’re buying it from a restaurant, but over 50% of the plate is local – it’s allowed. 
    • Family gatherings/ friends for dinner - try and discuss before hand and explain the project - forfeit some food if you know it's not local. 
    • At the pub - only drink locally sourced beers/ wines/ whiskeys etc – don’t forget all of the product’s ingredients are relevant here – some research of ingredients in advance might help. But it might not.
    Wish us luck - this might be tougher than we think. You can follow us here, or on twitter:@GoingLocalGreen

    Going Local Going Green

    I'm working on a research project. You can find out more about it here or at http://www.goinglocalgoinggreen.info/

    I'll be posting up things we learn, blogposts and other updates. But for now, this is what we're doing. 

    Going Local Going Green is a website and project dedicated to exploring what it means to go 'local' and be 'green' in our home town,
     the mighty city of Bristol.

    On this blog you will find articles and information detailing the various experiences of going local and going green in our city of Bristol. You will hear from Jo, Tim, Cai and Holly about the areas in which we are exploring under the overarching themes of nature, food, land, health and economy. We will also explore what exactly 'local' and 'green' means to us, and using our chosen methodology (action learning) we will amble along, digging up information now and then to share with you, and hopefully inspire and connect you even more with the city around us. 

    Follow us on twitter for all the latest news: @GoingLocalGreen


    The child has a hundred languages

    No way. The hundred is there.
    The child
    is made of one hundred.
    The child has
    a hundred languages
    a hundred hands
    a hundred thoughts
    a hundred ways of thinking
    of playing, of speaking.
    A hundred always a hundred
    ways of listening
    of marveling of loving
    a hundred joys
    for singing and understanding
    a hundred worlds
    to discover
    a hundred worlds to invent
    a hundred worlds
    to dream.
    The child has
    a hundred languages
    (and a hundred hundred hundred more)
    but they steal ninety-nine.
    The school and the culture
    separate the head from the body.
    They tell the child:
    to think without hands
    to do without head
    to listen and not to speak
    to understand without joy
    to love and to marvel
    only at Easter and at Christmas.
    They tell the child:
    to discover the world already there
    and of the hundred
    they steal ninety-nine.
    They tell the child:
    that work and play
    reality and fantasy
    science and imagination
    sky and earth
    reason and dream
    are things
    that do not belong together.
    And they tell the child
    that the hundred is not there.
    The child says:
    No way. The hundred is there.

    ~Loris Malaguzzi
    (translated by Lella Gandini here. h/t to Mr Key)