Wednesday, 5 January 2011

No Impact Week: Consuming Our Fair Share

For those who are interested I did manage to walk to work yesterday, but I didn't manage it this morning.  I was asleep when the alarm went off so got up a bit late, and those extra minutes were crucial to being ready in time to walk.  I realised I shall need to see to the chickens quite often as hubby is going to be away a fair bit over the next few weeks, and he usually sees to them on the days I work in the morning.  Can I get organised enough to make walking to work possible when he's away?  Watch this space.

Today's challenge for No Impact Week is to eat locally and seasonally and avoid packaged and processed foods.

Well, Sunday we had the pizzas we bought in Waitrose, so they only had a bit of plastic film on that couldn't be recycled, the box and support were both cardboard.  One of the pizzas was plain and one, bacon and mushroom, and I added sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts in jars, that needed using up as I'd opened them some time ago, plus olives and fresh red pepper.

Monday we ate a shepherd's pie made with Duchy Original organic mince, organic onions, carrots and parsnips, all from our Christmas Riverford delivery, so the parsnips needed using up.  We topped this with organic mashed swede and potatoes from the same delivery and served it with delicious organic sprouts grown by us in our own garden.

Last night we had a quick dinner as I was working until 7.00 pm, so we had organic oven chips (they came in a plastic bag), with boiling bacon left over from New Year's Day,  heated in the oven and poached eggs from our own chickens.

Tonight my daughter asked for jacket potato and I've decided I shall grate my organic potatoes with organic onions, adding home-grown eggs (almost, but not quite organic and free range) and organic oats that come from Ireland in a paper packet.  This must be fairly environmentally friendly.

Today I also bought a couple of organic chicken breasts for Friday, scampi and breaded king prawns for myself, daughter and friend tomorrow a packet of grated mozzarella and a packet of four sachets of miso soup.   There was quite a lot of packaging involved.

The chicken came in the usual stiff plastic container.  Perhaps I should consider ordering meat from Riverford, but as we don't eat much and have to buy £25 worth I would have to freeze some of it.  I prefer fresh food, but also we only have a smallish freezer compartment on the top of our fridge.  I tend to buy food fairly often, so that it is fresh.  I shall have to think about this.

The scampi came in a plastic bag, but daughter particularly asked for it.  I shall have the breaded king prawns, which I wouldn't normally buy, but Waitrose say they are sustainably farmed, and they also come in a cardboard packet.  Atlantic prawns would involve less airmiles in theory, but there are rumours that they are shipped to the other side of the world to be peeled, so it might not be the case.  I thought the king prawns could be an environmentally friendly option because there have been problems with people in places like Bangladesh cutting down mangroves to farm tiger prawns, so encouraging those who farm sustainably seems like a good thing.

It seems impossible to buy mozarella that doesn't come in some kind of plastic packaging and if it is Italian, it will have travelled more than 250 miles.  I could buy a lump of mozarella that is produced much more locally, but it comes in a plastic pot.  The miso soup is a bit of an extravagance, so I don't drink it every day.  I wish I could get the exact recipe in a pot, but I've tried better packaged varieties and they just don't taste the same.  I'm not expecting to buy much more this week and my Riverford box should arrive on Friday, with lots of lovely organic vegetables for next week, in paper and cardboard packaging.  They took a week off last week to enjoy a well-earned rest.

I could now tell all about our lunches this week, but I think this post is quite long enough.  Suffice to say that on the whole we have been using up Christmas goodies and yesterday daughter and I used up almost all the pasta bake we made when my brother-in-law and family came last Thursday.  I do take a metal drinks container to work with water or diluted apple juice and have a lunch box, which I use sometimes, but it is a bit cumbersome.

I'm probably not entering into this experiment as whole-heartedly as I could, but in part that is because I only became aware it was happening the day before it started so have not had time to prepare for it.  Secondly I have given most of these issues a lot of thought over a number of years and know what does and doesn't work for me and my family.  However, it has helped me to re-focus on these areas and I expect I shall look at them more closely over the coming weeks and months. 

I'm a bit tired now, so hope this hasn't been too rambling.  Hopefully my brain will be better engaged tomorrow, when it looks like I'm not meant to be using any gas or electricity, so I might pass on that - certainly not switching the heating off in this weather.


  1. Hi Karin,

    I think the food day has been a difficult one. It's really made us realise just how very little local food we have in our diet. We are going to try harder, but think we'll struggle to have any variety if we even just stick to UK grown foods...

    Good luck with tomorrow,

    Kay :0)

  2. I reckon that food is going to be my greatest challenge when I undertake the experiment next week. Our staple foods include rice and pasta, neither of which are produced in the UK. We have several local bakers but I imagine the wheat is imported. Like you I have a Riverford box, so I should be alright with fruit and vegetables, and I can buy locally produced meat at one of the markets, but as for the rest of my diet? How will I survive without a cup of tea? And anyway, how easy is it to discover where food comes from? Is it possible to eat a healthy balanced diet only using ingredients sourced within a radius of 250 miles? And if it could be done what happens to the the people who grow our bananas, our cocoa beans, our sugarcane, whose economies depend on our trade? It's not an easy issue.

    You're over half way there now and it's obviously having the desired effect of making you (and others) think about the way we live. Good luck with the rest of your week.

  3. Hi Kay and Gai, I agree, it isn't easy to have a varied and healthy diet with only locally grown produce. Our ancestors had no choice, unless they were wealthy but they didn't seem to be a terribly healthy bunch on the whole.

    I think the thing is to base our diets on as much local, organic, seasonal produce as we can, and to source the rest of what we eat from as nearby as possible and to go for Fairtrade options when buying from further afield as they do somebody some good and should at least be grown with minimum chemicals.

    Btw - now I'm more awake, I realised I got the dinners wrong for Sunday and Monday and I forgot to mention our home-grown sprouts!

  4. First of all, congratulations on walking to work, I hope it was fun!

    I agree that food is a challenging one. Mother nature gave me a bit of a shove in this department though, as I have so many food allergies that I have to cook nearly everything I eat from scratch. But finding local foods can be a real challenge. I try as much as possible to eat foods grown within my own state (Colorado) but it's often not possible. Plus, it's way worse to eat local food grown in a heated greenhouse than to get something trucked in for a few miles. But I refuse to buy summer produce flown in from Chile during the winter months!

    My current stratgey is to grow as much as I can in my own garden... but I had to buy a box freezer to store it all for the winter. Always tradeoffs!

    I agree that cheese is a particular challenge. It all comes wrapped in plastic and from many miles away. I recently found a local dairy that makes and sells cheese (with no plastic even!) But (and this is a pretty big BUT) it costs over $10 a pound! I can buy cheese for only $2 a pound at the local discount grocery... I dunno... I'll have to think about this one!

  5. It is hard to find cheese that isn't wrapped in plastic these days. I remember buying it wrapped in greaseproof paper, but it had a tendency to dry out if you kept it any length of time.

    I am lucky that Blagdon in Somerset where Yeo Valley Organic cheddar comes from is just over 100 miles away from me. When I go to the Farmers' Market in February I shall look out for more local organic cheese.


All relevant comments to this post are welcome, so feel free to have your say.