Tuesday, 10 January 2012

CHALLENGE: Best of British – The Frugality of Eating Local

Firstly, a big thank you to Pamela over at Frugal Homemaking, who wrote about my challenge in her blog. She mentioned that even meat has seasons, which is something I hadn't considered before. Meat eaters could have a problem trying to find British lamb before spring is sprung, whilst many species of fish can only be caught at specific times of year. Just more difficulties to add to the list!

The Frugality of Eating Local
Onto my thoughts for today. You may think I've been paying over the odds for foods just to ensure they are British. Whilst that may be the case for some foods (HONEY = £3.99 for a jar from Devon, 99p for Tesco Value honey jar of the same size!!), I've found that in general it is actually enabling me to save money!

Meal planning
This challenge is very restrictive, especially as a vegetarian, so it is important I have in my head an idea of what I will eat for the day. A typical day's worth of food has been:
  - Porridge for breakfast (Scottish oats and Cornish milk) – 23p (~5p for the porridge, 18p for the milk)
  - Spinach, leek and cheese omelette with a salad for lunch (fried in British butter to avoid the unclear origins of vegetable oil) – 99p (~20p for the spinach, 9p for the leek, 25p for the cheese, 35p for the eggs, 10p for the lettuce)
  - Apple for a snack (from Kent) - ~9p
  - A big bowl of vegetable stew for dinner (carrots, potatoes, parsnips, swede – no salt as Cornish sea salt is bloody expensive, although Pamela mentioned a book about eating locally where the authors made their own salt from seawater) - ~40p (~5p for carrot, 10p for potato, 10p for parsnip, 15p for swede)
  - Yogurt and honey for a snack – 65p (~40p for yogurt, 25p for spoonful of honey)

To be honest, most days have had very similar menus! It is hard to be creative on the narrow scope of this challenge, especially when I was fitting food in around two jobs! An entire day's food for £2.36 can't be bad though!

Seasonal eating
Whilst eating locally, you have to eat seasonally. Whatever's in season is cheapest. We all know this, yet I for one have rarely paid it any attention. A simple rule is that if you can find it in your local farmer's market, you'll know that it is seasonal, fresh and cheap. If you eat winter vegetables now, and stock up on British strawberries in the summer, you'll save yourself a bundle over the year. (If you have your own vegetable patch you're already miles ahead – FREE seasonal food!!)

No junk food!
Pretty much NO junk food snacks are 100% British, so I've not been wasting any money on that! Walkers crisps are made with British potatoes, but the oil and flavourings are likely to be imported. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which grow in Africa. Lots of cakes are made using palm oil from Africa or Asia, something which I will not be returning to after this week is over because of its devastating effect on the environment

For those who want to make an entirely British sugary snack, why not make biscuits from 250g butter, 140g Silverspoon sugar (the only company I've found to use British sugar beet rather than imported sugar cane to make sugar), 1 egg yolk and 300g plain flour. Bake at 180°C or gas mark 4 for 12-15 minutes.

Savings of the Past
We could learn a lot by revisiting old recipes from World War II, when imported fruit and veg was almost non-existent and people had to make do with what they had. It can be very cheap to survive on a diet of local meats and seasonal vegetables. If you had to survive entirely on your own country's food, what would you need to change to do it? Start a vegetable plot? Preserve food? Raise animals? What do you already do to eat local?


saving for travel said...

Oh, this is fascinating.

I'm loving reading about it.

Sft x

Meanqueen said...

I eat Yorkshire (next county) free range eggs. We import far too many from caged hens in other countries. At the moment we have Lincolnshire grown potatoes, parsnips, swedes, and carrots, of which I eat loads.

kelley said...

I'm enjoying reading about your challenge too...living in the Midwest of the USA local produce is easy to come by seasonally...I have coworkers who raise antibiotic and hormone free chickens and Angus beef...brown eggs and local honey...I suppose I could always make peppermint or chamonile tea...

Kearnygirl said...

Hi, I just came across your blog today. I find it very interesting to read about how others are coping with finding enough local foods to buy. I live in the Northeast USA and while there are loads of farmer's markets during the spring/summer season here, there are none during the fall /winter seasons. It's difficult to find locally grown food and when I do, I buy it but if not, I resort to foods that are imported. At least everything is labeled where it comes from so you really have a choice as to whether or not you want to buy it. I have a veggie garden in the summer months and also grown some herbs. I think your challenge is hard because even, like you said, the tea is imported and I love tea! Good luck with your venture.

Frugal Down Under said...

Local means Australian - however Australia is BIG and has European to Asian climate so diverse available foods.

But if we talked local as my region only then that is a different story. I would have to change many things.

I would grown more South East Asian fruit and veggies.
I would have chooks for eggs.
I would have a goat for milk.
I would eat beef and kangaroo (no lambs or pigs in my region)

Anonymous said...

Such an interesting post! I've found that shopping at my local market has made me more aware of what's in season, though they do stock Imported goods like bananas and sweet potatoes (all the way from the US!) so I could definitely follow your example to pay more attention to eating locally.