Food Miles – Jul 2006

There’s no escaping it, I’m a lucky sod! From my first years, my mum grew the most phenomenal vegetables which gave my brother and I a head start in life; despite the best attempts of some appalling school dinners. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved food. Combined with locally reared meat, free range eggs (was there any other type back then?), local milk and cheese, our diet consisted on food mostly sourced and collected from a 10 mile radius. We also ate with the seasons; the thought of having a tomato in January would have seemed quite alien back then.

So what changed? Norman’s superstore in Highbridge which back in the mid 1970’s was the first supermarket in the area. The food was cheaper, there was plenty of choice and you could buy a tomato in January. I was on the start of a slippery slope… Before I knew it I was doing all my shopping at the nearest Tesco and eating exotic fruits and vegetables from around the world.

Then what I discovered was that transporting food around the world uses massive amounts of energy which all contributes to global warming. Often the food is flown in from other continents so that it can reach our shops as quickly as possible and planes are a growing source of CO2 emissions. Once in the UK, fleets of trucks transport this produce around the country, causing more damage and congestion. We quickly discovered that strawberries from Kenya really do not taste of much. Also the issues around the cash crops that farmers in the developing world are ‘encouraged’ to grow are complex, but rarely in the farmers favour.

So, we’ve changed. I do still use the supermarket for some things, cleaning products and the like but our food now comes from our Veggie Box, http://www.riverford.co.uk/ , from farm shops, from the excellent Wedmore shops, or whenever possible we grow our own, the ultimate in zero food miles.

Farmers markets are also a great source of local food and a place where you can chat to the growers, especially useful with meat, we find. And we have them nearby;

  • Axbridge 1st Sat if each month
  • Cheddar 3rd Sat of each month
  • Glastonbury last Sat of each month
  • Wells every Wednesday
  • Somerset Local Food Direct – this company runs a veg and meat box scheme