Sunday, May 24, 2009

100mile regional food week

During the week I've been following a regional food challenge limiting myself to food within a 100 mile (160km) radius of my home.

I started the tough way by cleaning out the fridge and starting with an empty larder. Well, it would not have been a challenge otherwise. Always mindful of using fresh seasonal produce, limitations on distance from farm to table have proved interesting. What an education I've received.

Was I crazy to think I would walk into the Sydney CBD and find local produce, or even find food for which the origin was known. On the first day, I spent (more than) my lunchtime walking the city. Just one helpful fruit stall (Pitt Street near Martin Place) had produce (known to be) from this state. His display of apples was from Batlow and I purchased three. To be sure of my distance obligation, a friend did his technical thing and checked, and Batlow did not fall within range from Sydney. Regional for sure! But I'm a Taurus and determined. I did not want to fail on my first day.

So I went without (any food in fact) and put in a distress call to alliance partner Jackie Harper (MIP distributor of WherescapeRED). She lives near the Hawksbury. Emergency supplies of beef and eggs were delivered. Jackie tells me the meat was from Nelson who lived a happy life on her property and was patted and cuddled everyday.

With more time I found friends with backyard veggie gardens and even a local health food store Soul passion, who bring in father-in-laws acreage produce each Wednesday. This week they obliged me with silverbeet, small sweet green capsicum, oranges and rhubarbs.

And so I survived the first couple of days.

During the challenge there were a number of items that were excluded not only for distance, but also because of fairer trade and other issues: coffee and chocolate. I also couldn't source local wheat (flour), rice, dairy products, oil, salt or pepper.

I'd given thought to making some salt myself from the seawater to which I have access. A Twitter friend Natascha Mirosch from the Courier Mail, told me she had done so. By the time we tweeted, the required 3 days for evaporation still meant no salt for me this week! She'd also done the 100 mile challenge and found it tough. Perhaps things are changing, as once I had time to learn and research I was delighted to find the newly opened Eveleigh Farmers' Market in Sydney. And what a delight for local season fresh food ...

Check out http://www.insidecuisine.com/ for more on the Eveleigh Farmers' Market each Saturday.

Still I brought home plentiful fresh fruit vegetables and herbs. And, I've enjoyed a healthy and delicious week filled with flavour.

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