Why lo­cal pro­duce is bet­ter for you and the planet

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Amateur Gardening -

I’M not sure whether you re­mem­ber a se­ries of ad­verts, from a few years ago, that went along th­ese lines: “This is no or­di­nary as­para­gus – this is flown in from Peru. Th­ese green beans have been hand-picked in Kenya…” and so on. Ev­ery­thing sold by this chain seemed to have been jet­ted in from some far-flung place and that was sup­posed to make us all go, “Wow! That’s spe­cial.”

Well, it made me cringe be­cause the air miles in­volved do the planet no good at all. Worse still, many coun­tries grow­ing this fresh food for us are rather short of it them­selves.

Of course, I’m not im­mune to for­eign food. I love or­anges, for in­stance, and we can’t grow them here. I love al­monds too, so my cup­boards do con­tain a few things from far-flung places. How­ever, most of the food I eat is sea­sonal that I’ve grown my­self, or some­one else has grown lo­cally. In win­ter, I’m con­tent to eat my stored win­ter squashes, dig up my parsnips and car­rots, pick my bras­si­cas, wash my muddy pota­toes and pre­pare the leeks.

A few years ago the Best Beloved, in need of some­thing to do on a harsh win­ter’s day, de­cided to tot up the pound miles in our Sun­day lunch for eight. That’s the miles taken to move one pound of food. The pork came from the lo­cal butcher, but was from a Glouces­ter Old Spot on Adam Hen­son’s Cotswold Farm Park, which is only four miles away as the crow flies. How­ever, all meat in this area has to travel to an abat­toir and back, which is some 20 miles away, and that gave it a tally of 52 miles per pound.

The veg­eta­bles were grown by us and one pud­ding con­sisted of stewed fruit that in­cluded frozen rasp­ber­ries, red­cur­rants, black­cur­rants, cook­ing ap­ples and goose­ber­ries from our fruit cage. (Need­less to say, we didn’t feel de­prived with­out as­para­gus flown in from Peru). There was some but­ter, milk and flour in­volved in mak­ing the white sauce for the leeks.

I man­aged to ruin it, though – I al­ways do – by mak­ing a Bakewell tart with Cal­i­for­nian ground al­monds. That amounted to 2,100 miles when the flour, sugar and but­ter were added in. In one swoop our pound miles went up to 3,300.

On his next trip to the su­per­mar­ket the Best Beloved cal­cu­lated the same food (leeks, pork, but­ter­nut squash, kale, pota­toes and so on) bought at the su­per­mar­ket. It came to 19,000 miles and was bumped up by a win­ter squash from Mo­rocco.

“The air miles do the planet no good at all”

Squashes can be stored for use dur­ing win­ter Grow your own fruit and use it fresh or frozen

Cavolo nero or ‘Ital­ian kale is a great win­ter veg­etable

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