Thursday, December 8, 2011

Food Miles and Flavour

I was watching my food hero Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tonight doing a show about going vego for six months. He's an inspiring bloke, at least to me and one of the key things I took away was that he'd got a new category added to the local show. Tastiest vegetable. It makes sense, especially in today's modern two tone supermarket system where taste would be at the bottom of a long checklist of things like whether or not the veg can bounce along in a truck for 500km.

One of the thing I love about Lantanaland is food miles. Food miles are the distance and energy used to get something to your door. I'm not saying that you have to get everything locally, some cultures and regions just do things better. I get a kick out of the smallest things though and tonight is was one small jar of tomato jam made with these small pear tomatoes that I planted just for jam.

These tomatoes have had a rough time, the cows have escaped a few times and they are on the driveway with some other tasty treats and have had a bit of a prune. I got just enough of the little beauties for one jar. I'm going to enjoy breakfast tomorrow knowing that my jam has food miles of about 50m.

The other food with very low mileage is obviously my dairy products. Now I understand that not everyone wants a cow, even though cows are cool. I've been making lots and lots of creamy feta and one of the other tidbits on River Cottage was a smoked soft curd goats cheese. If a soft curd goats cheese takes smoke well, I reckon my feta will, so this weekend I'll fire up the cold smoker and try smoking some cheese.

I understand that not everyone cares about flavour or where their food has come from. For some people it's price and convenience and nothing else. Some people support the local farmers markets or grow herbs on a balcony. But I'm pretty proud of my jam, small token or not.


  1. Food miles matter to me for sure. Thing is though sourcing locally (for me) correlates with better quality and/or better economics so it's all win. Aside from stuff which isn't grown in the area (eg bananas) most of what we eat is grown within a 150km radius of here.

  2. You know me, mate. The first of the season's raspberries are coming in. Every year when this happens, I remember why buying raspberries at the supermarket is worse than a waste of money.

    The boys pulled just over a kilo off the bushes yesterday - fresh, ripe, and perfect. We've had good rain, and a warm turn, so the berries are just exploding with flavour. I made a big, flat lemon cake, and cut it into squares. Then I whipped some (local!) cream, and made sandwiches: a square of lemon cake, a generous dollop of whipped cream, a big scoop of raspberries, tumbling and rolling in scarlet glory all over the plate, and then another square of cake for a lid - and finally, a sprig of mint just for show.

    You're right. Flavour and mileage don't matter to some people. But with certain food items, transport is just impossible. I can't get good mangosteens down here... and good luck getting decent raspberries and blackberries where you are.

    And that's okay too. It means that when I go somewhere different, there are new things to try. Vive le difference!