Half half at this stage

This weeks meals have been focused around not only the locavore (local omnivore) idea but also a slow carb meal plan.

First the locavore concept. Wiki explains it in short as “those who prefer to eat locally grown/produced food”. Now when doing a search for this term there are a ton of variations that come back in your search results. I’m trying to keep it simple and true to its original purpose – keep it local, keep it seasonal. Just as we do with many things as humans, the core of the locavore movement has been added to and refitted to suit the needs/agendas of many. For example, some groups propose that taking a product from a local source, shipping across the country, repacking and shipping back can still be deemed as being in the bounds of locavorism. How does that 1) limit food mileage 2) add to the local economy when it is likely the farmer has been paid a minimum where the corporate reaps the ridiculous mark up which is then kept within that city location where the product was packed or into the coffers of the multinational where it is likely the money is sent overseas to their shareholders. Yes, I am throwing wild accusations and huge assumptions out there, but again, stick to number one – keep it local (define for yourself what you deem to be local but don’t kid yourself).

Second – slow carb. This in short means each meal built around vegetables, legumes and protein, with no “white” foods e.g. flour, milk, rice, bread, pasta etc. This results in a meal that slowly releases energy over a longer period (satifised for longer) and no wild swings in e.g. insulin. So far, so good and surprisingly I haven’t missed the milk in my coffee in the morning. I have found having vegetables quite a shock from the usual cereal/yoghurt routine but not disliking it either. I should confess thoug’h that I did get a flat white during the week even though I didn’t get to finish it as I was busy at work. One day a week is binge day when anything goes food wise. I must say though that aside from wanting a proper milky coffee I really haven’t been craving anything significant. Hmmm actually, cheese will be on my list for tomorrow’s binge day.

So how does a slow carb meal plan sit with the locavore experiment seeing as it is not likely that lentils or many bean species are grown here in NZ? There is where the half/half comes in.

It would seem that my plan needs to be reviewed yet again. I was trying to go all out and pretty much have 100% of my plate being sourced within a 100km radius. All or nothing! This isn’t going to happen if my meal plan then also consists of beans highly likely to be imported and that fact that Taupo doesn’t actually produce much in the way of produce within the 100km zone. In fact nil to be said unless you count the backyards of locals. So should my focus be on sourcing as much as I can instead of my gungho all or nothing approach?

To decide this I have to go back to my main purpose or reasoning for going the locovore route. These are –
*healthier eating as the food stuffs should be fresher and better quality as I am eating to the season not chemically stored products,
*decreasing the carbon footprint taken to get the products from source to plate,
*supporting my immediate local economy and producers

By sourcing as much as I can from a locavore perspective then I am at least attempting to achieve these goals. I can truly say at the moment that number 1 has been well adhered to . We can’t believe how much more in the way of in season vegetables we have been eating and also how easy they are to prepare in a number of different ways for a change.

My previous core criteria were:
1. The majority of my weekly main meals must consist of seasonal elements and
2. Seasonal elements must be sourced within a 100 kilometer radius of Taupo
And now:
1. Meals must focus on using seasonal vegetables
2. Locally produced products are to be the priority where available sourced from a 200 kilometer radius of Taupo

Week three

This is way harder than I had envisaged. Surely it can’t be this hard to find out where my food comes from? I am truly appreciating the movement in the UK that set out the providence of many food items in even the supermarket! This is generally OK in the supermarket here (I shop at Countdown) for fruit but the vegetables don’t follow suit. For example I had to work on Saturday so couldn’t get to the markets (they are only on Saturday’s) so we had to get our brocolli from the supermarket. No idea where it was sourced from. I guess I should have asked the staff but trying to find a staff member interested or willing to assist is not such a fun thought. There is also the other vege shop that I mentioned last time that is great at noteing where the products are sourced from but this was shut by the time I got to it.
The next hard area to get any information for is any meat that I buy and also trying to limit what food I buy that is tinned or packaged.
Finally, we have been buying more take out than we should lately due to late night working and generally a lack of a weekly plan due to the late nights. This needs to be brought under control and better managed if I want to do this right. How can I expect anything to change if I don’t change anything?

So the actions for this week:
Visit the last local butcher in town to see where they source their product from and do small shop if within range
Plan our meals for at least the next 2 nights consisting of what we can get locally

My first week

Week one is over on my 100km challenge and so far I would say it has been a bit of a fail. It has been rather frustrating trying to find locally produced products at this point due to the climate in this area not seeming to produce much in the way of produce. Even trying to find locally produced meat is an effort. I am about to head off to the Saturday morning Riverside Farmers Market to get some vege for this week. It is frustrating that there is no fish monger, butcher or really any decent fromagerie there. Darn I miss the markets of Paris and Bristol. Our Bristol local market on a Wednesday morning had everything there including the butcher. Loved it!

Meanwhile I have also been doing our household carbon footprint and the result was quite good.

This was our result as below. What I have taken from this is that I need to get the kitchen waste into the compost more regularly, cut down on the use of the car and look at ways to try and insulate the flat a bit better (as much as we can for a rental unit. There is always more one can do to cut your footprint. Here is our household result. The address to do your own is at:

Today your Household Footprint is 9 times the size of your section.
Energy use: 1498 m2
Wateruse: 372 m2
Wastes: 1834 m2
Transport: 1607 m2

Total Footprint: 5311 m2

Your household footprint is relatively small by New Zealand standards, however we are all still using more resources than the planet can maintain so keep watching the series to find out ways to reduce your impact on the planet and save cash on your household bills.

First vege shop

Saturday is the day for the Riverside Markets in Taupo from 10am until 1pm. I dropped off Steve for work, went for a swim and then hit the markets with $100 in hand ready to buy my vege heart out.

My first obstacle on the 100km challenge was to browse through all the stalls and find out where the produce had come from. I was a bit disappointed in that there are no meat or cheese stall holders here as well. How is that possible? Surely we have great locally produced meats and cheeses available for sale direct from the producer?

I have made a list of what is in season at the moment in order to ensure our main meals are focused on seasonality. This means the following are all on the OK menu list:
Apples, broccoli, cabbage, capsicums, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber (telegraph), garlic, kiwifruit, kumara, leeks, lettuce, limes, mandarins, mushrooms, onions, parsnip (gross!), potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, silver beet, spinach, spring onion, sprouted beans, squash, swedes, turnip and watercress.

What I didn’t count on was that even though the food at the stalls is “locally” produced my 100km radius was out the window. My first purchase was avocados for guacamole this week and some salads. These were from the Hawkes Bay. After having a chat to the stall holder I have come to realise that due to the low temparatures around Taupo it is not the greatest area for vegetable growing. Hot house produced products just don’t have the flavour and so I may have to relook at my radius or being more productive with what I can get. I will go for the latter option at this point until I can investigate every avenue first.

My second stall purchase was more successful. Free range eggs from Cackle Hill Farm, Taupo. Next were my carrots, watercress and broccoli from the Ohakune stall holder. Darn it, even they are 135km from Taupo so again outside my radius. Fail again.

Finally, I ended up on Rifle Range Road at Lake Taupo Fresh fruit and vegetable store. What I did like here was that for the most part all the produce had a sign provided to say where it had come from. Knowing the providence of an item is somewhat satisfying even if it was disappointing to find that the only thing really I could get from within my radius were the free range eggs already purchased directly from the producer.

It would seem that growing my own produce might be the way to go however there are 2 issues with this, well actually 3 issues – patience (which I have little of), green thumb (which I am trying to foster but wouldn’t bet my dinner plate on it), space (I rent so have to come up with a cost efficient and portable option).

From seeing my mum and dad grow their own produce another realisation is getting the right amount of product at the right time and picking the items you really want. It makes we wonder if there are other home growers out there with a need to swap produce. How cool would it be to have a network of local growers specialising in a particular item and then meeting to swap/barter or the like? Would it be viable? What if someone (mainly me) had a bad crop and wasn’t able to contribute. How do you ensure a particular standard of growing is met (a charter maybe?). Hmmm food (excuse the pun) for thought?

So now, I have a fridge full of “as near as I could get to being local” produce with the furthest item being from Blenheim. Who knew garlic was grown there? What meals can I create from this over the week and will I have better fortune next time in sourcing goods closer to home.

First challenge

I went into a butcher today in Taupo (one of 2 local butchers besides the supermarkets). I wanted to get some items for dinner over the next couple of days seeing as stores will be shut tomorrow for Good Friday.

Me to the butcher “Can you please tell me where did this pork come from?”
Butcher “From here”
Me “Sorry, I meant where was it raised?”
Butcher – with a look that clearly said this was the stupidest question he had heard all day “I don’t know, from all over NZ?”

Hmmmm, an interesting and possibly frustrating start to this challenge.

The 100km challenge

There are some things that I tend to hold important to me but I haven’t really invested time in ensuring that what I deem important is what I practice. Hence the 100km challenge.

While sitting on a bus up to Auckland this plan started to form. I LOVE my food but feel it’s important to know the providence of what I eat and ensure that what I choose to eat is good for me and can be eaten without concern as to how it got to me. Yes, I still eat crappy food but for the most part what I spend my money on shows and should support what I hold as being important to me.

What is important to me continues to grow from my time in the UK. This started with learning about and switching to a preference for supporting free range farmed chickens instead of incredibly cheap chicken that had been intensively farmed. Not only was the taste so much better but I could feel better about what my money was supporting. This now also continues to extend to where I choose to spend my money in other areas of my life.

Since moving back to NZ another concern that has become evident to me is our isolation from the rest of the world. With this comes the importing of goods that we possibly don’t need. Surely if we eat seasonally and source locally then we could not only eat more healthily but ensure that our food miles are less as well as support our local producers/economy. Hence the 100km challenge.

The core criteria are:
1. The majority of my weekly main meals must consist of seasonal elements and
2. Seasonal elements must be sourced within a 100 kilometer radius of Taupo

What I plan to do with my blog is to outline the issues, concerns and successes that I have trying to implement this challenge. Can I successfully stick to these 2 core criteria. It should be interesting especially trying to figure out what to make with changing seasonal elements. I tend to stick to the products I know as I know how to cook these! What the heck do I do with a swede?

Bring on the challenge.