This week I had the lovely experience of going to a pop-up restaurant on a local farm. The menu largely consisted of locally grown and killed produce, including the most delicious cherry tomatoes I’ve ever tasted and tender rabbit found in nearby fields. I would say that knowing the rabbit was killed only a few miles from where we ate made it harder to eat but I’d be lying… it was still bloody delicious. In a way, knowledge that the food was grown on the same ground we were eating on made it taste better, not only because of the freshness, but probably mainly due to the smug feeling of moral superiority that came with the meal.
The benefits of buying locally-grown foods have been hashed and rehashed, with the cynical likes of Jay Rayner asserting that buying local, fresh produce is a middle-class choice rather than a solution to save the food system. Some even claim that local produce do not rival the flavour of imported foods. This is probably a fairly accurate claim – let’s face it, the likes of you and me probably couldn’t tell the difference from a locally grown tomato and one shipped from Peru. But sourcing food locally provides something that soulless cooperations simply cannot – community. With the ability to have your shopping delivered straight to your door without having to interact with anyone but the Ocado man, modern life can be incredibly lonely. No longer do we say hi to the milk man every morning or haggle with the butcher at the price of a a lamb shank. I can sadly say that I never thought to learn the names of anyone at the Tesco counter, despite visiting almost every day. I had no clue which part of the world my food comes from or given second though to the farmers that have slaved over my meal.
Since moving to a smaller town, I’ve learn that food, at each step, should be about people. From getting a discount from the bread lady, cooking and learning recipes from your mum to sharing good food with your family and friends, food is about people. By sourcing locally, you are not only helping the sustainable food chain and getting fresh produce, but you are helping to build up the community feel that has been lost from most large cities.
Here’s a spring green salad made from entirely local produce bought at the farm. Next time you’re planning a meal, pop down to your local market or independent shop – trust me, being on first name terms with people who have the power to give out food has some serious perks.
Spring Green salad with poached egg:
1 bunch asparagus
1 garlic clove
1 cup soy beans/edamame
1 handful flaked almonds
1 bunch spring onions
1 pinch chilli flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Lightly fry asparagus and chopped garlic in olive oil for 8-10 mins until tender
2. Add soy beans and flaked almonds and cook for a further 5-6 mins
3. Add chilli flakes and spring onions. Squeeze in 1/2 a lemon and olive oil. Season well.
4. Poach an egg in pan with hot water by swirling boiling water and cracking and egg in the centre. Cook for 2-3 mins.
5. Serve the salad and top with poached egg.