Ian spends a month tast­ing the ‘good life’

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News - HEATHER PICKSTOCK heather.pickstock@reach­plc.com Ian is writ­ing a daily blog about his chal­lenge which you can fol­low at https://bac­to­ber.word­press.com

ASELF-CON­FESSED cof­fee and curry fan has set him­self the chal­lenge of sur­viv­ing for a month eat­ing food that he has either grown, for­aged or “scraped off the road”.

IT con­sul­tant Ian Evans had al­ways fan­cied tak­ing more of a ‘good life’ ap­proach to food since he moved from Bris­tol to the ru­ral vil­lage of Wring­ton 15 years ago.

And this month he has set him­self the task of only eat­ing food which he, or oth­ers, have grown them­selves and items he has for­aged.

He has al­ready packed his freezer with meat af­ter find­ing a deer that had been knocked down on the road out­side his house.

“I had al­ways dreamed of self-suf­fi­ciency,” said Ian, a fa­ther-of-two, “but I never got round to it. So I thought a good month to do it would be Septem­ber or Oc­to­ber at har­vest time.”

Ian spent time pre­par­ing for his chal­lenge – which he has named ‘Bac­to­ber’ – by buy­ing a bread-maker and start­ing to brew his own beer.

His mum also found a yo­ghurt­mak­ing ma­chine that she used in the 1970s and which was squir­relled away in the loft.

Ian also for­aged wild gar­lic and col­lected net­tles to make soup.

“I am a type one di­a­betic and have been for most of my life, so I have to be quite or­gan­ised al­ready when it comes to food,” he said. “But this chal­lenge has taken it to a whole new level.”

As well as the food that he for­ages, grows and finds, Ian has also al­lowed him­self very ba­sic sup­plies of rice, flour, vine­gar, but­ter, rice, por­ridge oats and milk to use as in­gre­di­ents in mak­ing meals.

He also has some veg­eta­bles in his gar­den, such as toma­toes and chill­ies, and the ben­e­fit of a green­fin­gered fa­ther-in-law, who has an al­lot­ment in Pill and has been sup­ply­ing him with veg­eta­bles.

Other good­ies, in­clud­ing mush­rooms, have come from for­ag­ing trips in nearby woods.

One thing Ian had been miss­ing, though, was the po­tato.

“We haven’t grown any pota­toes at home, and I had re­ally started to miss them,” he said. “But the other day a friend of mine in Wring­ton ar­rived with some.

“She was clear­ing out her sta­ble and found a load of pota­toes grow­ing wild in a pile of horse ma­nure, so I had them. They were de­li­cious.”

The lo­cal Scout leader in the vil­lage sup­plied Ian with some home­made el­der­flower cham­pagne, while an­other friend gave him some wal­nuts that he had grown on his tree at his place in Slo­vakia.

Ian has also be­come quite a whizz in the kitchen.

“I had a fan­tas­tic pizza the other night” he said. “I made the dough base and then made a paste out of the toma­toes I had grown in the gar­den. I then added some onions we had grown and some of the veni­son from the freezer. It was the most de­li­cious pizza – one of the nicest I’ve ever had.”

He has even man­aged to keep up his so­cial life, tak­ing his own beer to the pub.

“I or­gan­ised to take my beer to the so­cial club in Con­gres­bury and pay them cork­age,” he laughed. “So my so­cial life hasn’t suf­fered.

“Some of the lo­cals asked to try my beer and said it wasn’t bad at all and bet­ter than some you buy in pubs.”

Ian has hit a low point, though, af­ter one of his meals did not turn out quite as planned.

“I’d had a hard week and hadn’t planned well enough, so I ended up with just some rice for tea,” he said.

“I put some of the wild gar­lic that I had picked in with it. It was ined­i­ble – to­tally hideous – and it ended up go­ing in the re­cy­cling.

“In­stead, I had a flap­jack for din­ner. At that point I did won­der if I’d make the whole 31 days.”

Ian says the chal­lenge has made him have a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion of food.

“You hear sto­ries about the Sec­ond World War when there was a real short­age of ap­petis­ing food,” he said. “But peo­ple used their imag­i­na­tion and came up with some great meals and had a good diet.

“Now peo­ple just go to their lo­cal su­per­mar­ket to get what they need, when they need it. This chal­lenge has al­lowed me to learn new things and I am ap­pre­ci­at­ing food more.

“My taste­buds have prob­a­bly been wrecked over the years by strong cof­fee and the fact I put Tabasco on ev­ery­thing.

“But now they have had a re­prieve and I am re­ally start­ing to taste food bet­ter.”

Eat­ing such a diet also has other ben­e­fits. In the first 10 days of his chal­lenge, Ian has al­ready lost a quar­ter of a stone in weight.

“Although it was never part of the plan, the weight is just fall­ing off,” he said.

He still has a few weeks to go to com­plete his chal­lenge but says there are parts of it he will con­tinue af­ter Oc­to­ber.

“I am go­ing to con­tinue to make my own bread and yo­ghurt as it tastes bet­ter than any­thing you can buy in the shops,” he said. “And I will keep brew­ing my own beer.

“We tell our­selves that be­cause it came from the su­per­mar­ket it’s bet­ter than what we can make our­selves, but this is so not the case.

“It does take time to plan and pre­pare, but it’s more pro­duc­tive than sit­ting in front of the tele­vi­sion in the evenings.”

Ian does have a few things he is look­ing for­ward to tuck­ing into when he goes back to ‘nor­mal life’.

“I re­ally fancy a curry,” he said. “And I have missed tea and cof­fee in­cred­i­bly.

“Oh, and a nice, good old English fry-up will go down a treat, too. And per­haps a McDon­ald’s and a to­mato juice with Lea and Per­rins and Tabasco.”

This chal­lenge has al­lowed me to learn new things and I am ap­pre­ci­at­ing food more

IAN EVANS

Ian Evans is spend­ing Oc­to­ber sur­viv­ing on food he has grown or for­aged

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