Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Food on tour


The garlic looks so forlorn.. after being plucked this spring, its summer was spent drying in the shed before being tipped and placed in a clay pot. Like all bulbs, its finest moment has yet to be discovered, hopefully as part of another lunch or dinner.

I think garden garlic is more pungent that store bought.. and definitely a little dirtier. Dirt in this case is good.. I know that it has been in the ground sometime this millenium.

Not to turn my poor garlic into a poster child for food 'miles', it is still an interesting concept to consider. Food miles are explained here via BBC website and provides a good introduction to the topic. How far food has travelled versus organic food and other emerging food trends are important issues for consumers. Awareness of these facts is essential in order to make informed choices.

Not everyone can have a garden that will sustain them for an entire year or a cold cellar to store it all in. Nor does the average person have access to rural land to raise animals for their milk or to rear their own meat.. and that extreme isn't what I am talking about anyhow. If we all ate as local as possible, supported seasonal foods in our supermarkets and everyone (who was able) reduced even the tiniest of items from travelling those many miles from the farm to the processor to the plate, it would create sustainable and accessible markets for local producers.

And that is what I do.. supporting the local farmers at our Saturday morning market, I also use my smallish back section to grow anything I can just for the fun of watching it all take shape (and then stressing about making sure none of it gets wasted). It is a busy time of year and the joys of preserving and pickling the abundance is enough for another post.

Fun and alot of work. Figs are by far the biggest pain (as per previous post) but only in the initial stages.. melons, beans, peas, blackberries, cucumber, pumpkins, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, capsicum and 7 varieties of lettuce, aside from germinating the seeds early for that added head start, are all relatively effort free.

If you are blessed with some earth, give it a try. Order a seed catalogue or check out a website for gardening or permaculture information. The Slowfood Chapter in Dunedin is having an education session on just that coming up in October.

Even without alot of room, some of these are definitely candidates for 'container gardening'. A bush or trailing zucchini plant can grow well in a sunny spot and herbs are another blessing that grow in small spaces without much intervention.

Most of the garden can be preserved for the coming winter months.. and some items supplemented with fruit and veggies from local u-pick operations to have enough to freeze and make specialty preserves. I combine batches of tomatoes for sauce or salsa, other mixed vegetables for giardiniera, and heartier veggies (corn and beans) for freezing. I also freeze berries for that special breakfast smoothie or cocktail, and they are also useful for an impromtu batch of jam.

In food miles, most of the garden harvest travels a total of 20 meters back to the kitchen with a temporary stopover at the shed.. approximately at the 10 meter mark.

It isn't alot but it is my bit.

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