Ian spends a month tasting the ‘good life’
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 is spending October surviving on food he has grown or foraged