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.

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