Hi all - I’m Caroline, @frome_withaview. Vicky has kindly invited me to guest blog for The Tale of a Teaspoon and so over the coming months I'll be exploring the world of sustainability and journeying towards a better plate and a better planet.
Although I am keen to support local when I can and love to frequent the fabulous local coffee shops, restaurants and of course the monthly Frome Independent Market - I wasn’t overly sustainable … I bought food every two or three days at the supermarket, cooked and ate but didn’t really think about how it had got to be on my plate.
But after chatting over coffee I found Vicky infectious and her enthusiasm for us all to try and do a little got me thinking … I started to put back the packet of salad leaves that may fill a sandwich or two but then wilt and go yucky … I put back the red pepper shipped in from, if I remember correctly, The Netherlands and started to think about how ‘I’ could take little steps to be better - less wasteful and more sustainable.
September is the ‘new pencil case’ month so let’s think about fresh starts, making some mini resolutions and starting a more sustainable food journey.
Why Should We Be Thinking About Sustainability?
It has been well documented that if we are going to tackle our climate crisis, we need to make huge changes – one of which is to our food systems. That’s a big prospect and one that is quite simply overwhelming.
Excuse the pun but let’s make it bitesize and let’s think about what is in our fridge, on our plate - where it comes from and how it’s made. By making small individual sustainable food choices we can really start to reduce our overall impact on the environment, if we all do a little it amounts to a lot.
Menu Plan & Shop Around
It is a good idea to menu plan, so as we start a new season let’s plan a list of meals taking in seasonal produce. Of course, few of us have the luxury of time or money to buy Farm Shop ingredients to cook up a storm - a local storm - each and every day. However, planning will help you know exactly what you need, reducing excess and therefore waste, and means you can use your pound more efficiently.
Have you considered a Meat Free Monday? Animal agriculture is an industry with one of the largest carbon footprints so let’s think about trying to reduce the amount of meat and dairy we eat. Also, by eating less meat there’s more to spend on sustainably reared produce - quality over quantity.
It's not only Farm Shops that are a source of local ingredients. Markets, neighbours allotments or your own garden can provide everything you need to cook up a hearty and healthy soup or stew.
And what about foraging? Is there anything nicer than an autumnal apple and blackberry crumble with blackberries picked from the hedgerows - yum. There is a host of delicious autumnal veggies to look forward to and as winter kicks in you can start to get creative with Brussel sprouts... go on, I dare you!
Meal planning helps make shopping around less daunting. Sometimes the whole thing just feels hard, so why not make planning, shopping and cooking sustainable food a "thing"... Sustainable Saturday! I, like Vicky, love a tag line and bit of alliteration. Get friends and family involved and all of a sudden doing the groceries no longer feels like a chore.
Use All the Product
Don’t throw away the stalks - cut up and stir fry, salad leaves looking slightly limp can be thrown into a casserole, other produce looking a bit worse for wear can be chopped and cooked to make a soup or thrown into a blender to make a smoothie.
If you don't have time to be making additional dishes straight away why not bung those ends into the freezer. A bag full of off cuts makes for a great base for a soup or sauce; you've reduced your waste and kept ahold of all of those lovely nutrients.
Cook and Eat Together
By cooking one meal for family or friends to share you reduce food waste when for example those last few carrots are not left to go soggy in the fridge.
You also save on energy when one larger meal is cooked as opposed to multiple ovens, kettles and hobs making smaller meals. If you can't cook for more people then consider making twice the amount you need and freezing half so there’s a meal prepped and ready to go for those busy nights or to enjoy out of season.
On this sustainable food journey it’s tempting to focus solely on the ‘food’ but this is only part of the story - try also to think about what the food is packed in - as far as possible buy loose to avoid packaging and if it can’t be avoided then reuse tubs for filling with those extra portions to freeze or for taking snacks to work, school or on a picnic.
In addition, think about trying fill and refill shops; take along your reusable pots and fill up oats, beans, pulses, and pasta as well as household and cleaning products – think fill, weigh, and pay!
In summary …
It’s important to remember that we don’t need to be perfect, it’s about starting a journey, all making an effort to do a little and on mass we will be doing a lot. Like with any change it’s easy to have big plans that fall by the way side, think New Year gym memberships!
The key to starting a sustainable food journey is that it is just that – sustainable - so take little steps and stick to them. So here’s those top five tips to get us all going.
- Think seasonal and buy local
- Try less meat and dairy
- Use all
- Cook together
- Avoid packaging
If you have seasonal recipes or ideas for how to eat more sustainably that you'd like to share please do so on this IG post.
Until next time, happy sustainable eating folks.
Caroline Bowen-Thomas is a freelance copy-writer and proof reader based in Frome. She's the creator behind Frome With a View, an Instagram account that celebrates all things fun to see and do in and around 30 minutes of the town of Frome in Somerset.