The Slow Shopper goes Self-Sufficient
Happy Slow Food Week! Until Sunday Slow Food UK is celebrating the wonder of good British food, with lots of flavour and an interesting story behind it. There are various foodie events going on, which I would definitely go to if only they weren’t all in London and Scotland.
If you are lucky enough to live near these places, look at the Slow Food UK website to find out more.
So back to the subject of slow shopping, and it’s been almost three months now since I last shopped in a supermarket or chain store. To be honest, the novelty’s starting to wear off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I miss the rows upon rows of overly-packaged convenience foods, or the garishly bright signs boasting about BOGOFs. More that I’ve overcome the initial thrill of discovering all the local independent shopping hotspots and have settled into a comfortable routine. I buy the bulk of my veg from a farm shop on my way home from work, get toiletries from a hardware shop on my local high street (and occasionally hardware too), and clothes from a well-stocked cluster of charity shops in a student area of Leeds. Sorted! The things I buy are generally more expensive than what you’d get in a supermarket, but on the other hand I’m less tempted to buy stuff I don’t need just ‘coz it’s there.
Did anyone watch the series ‘Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket’ on TV recently? As a regular milk drinker, it was distressing to hear that thousands of newborn calves in the UK are shot days after birth, so that their mothers will continue producing milk that we can drink. The baby cows are considered to be a ‘waste product’, as they cost too much to rear and there is little demand for their meat. This upsetting news has certainly encouraged me to drink more soya milk, and only choose organic dairy products; certified organic farmers must have a plan in place to end the culling of their calves within the next five years. Still less than ideal, but I struggle to imagine my life without cheese in it. If you are interested in watching the series, you can probably catch it on Channel 4 OD.
Having bought the chickens and baked the homemade bread, I decided to go on a self sufficiency course to find out what other steps I could be taking to live more sustainably. My husband James and I spent a very hands-on day with smallholding guru Sue, learning all about growing veg, how to keep our chickens happy and making cheese from fresh goat’s milk. It was great fun, and I can’t wait to get a couple of acres of my own and start living the good life! I can dream…
The self-sufficiency course I went to was at Garden Farming near Hull and I’d definitely recommend it, but wherever you live there’s probably a course near you- just Google ‘self-sufficiency’ or ‘smallholding courses’ if you’d like to give it a go. Even if you don’t plan on having your own small farm, it’s great to see food being produced with care and respect for animals and the environment.
Don’t forget, if you want to find out more about any of the things I mention in this blog, have a look at these useful resources.
To read previous blogs in this series, click here.