Tuesday, 4 October 2011

going locavore

I’ve decided to go Locavore. Just dipping my toe into the water, for the 10 days of Lewes’s Octoberfeast, starting tomorrow. This means sourcing all my food and drink from my East Sussex terrain.
Most of my diet is already based on the animals and vegetables that grow plentifully round here. Local farm shops provide lamb reared on the South Downs, biodynamic eggs, organic veggies from my allotment and several local farms, Golden Cross goats cheeses, and I can get delicious unpasteurised milk and even Sussex Downs butter in paper wrapping from the Lewes Friday market.

Starch-wise I’ve ordered a sack of Boathouse potatoes from the Ashurst veg box and I’m going to drop in on Plumpton Mill later today as I hear they mill wheat and rye grown by Plumpton College. Interestingly, a lot of the real bread we eat locally is made from wheat from Shipton Mill in the west country. I’m finding it much harder to source oats, which we eat daily in porridge, muesli and oatcakes. Dried beans, too are almost non-existant in Sussex; in the longer term that would affect the diet of the vegetarians and even more so the vegans in our family. I’m not sure one could be a vegan locavore in Sussex.
In terms of drink, there are several local wines, I hear, though Harveys sadly won’t be included, as the malt and most of the hops come from out of the region. I drink green tea, and will have to give that up in favour of the herb teas I’ve been collecting this summer. That’s probably my only real sacrifice.
As far as condiments grow, I’ll sadly have to do without pepper. Which would be hard long term. For now there’s horseradish ready to harvest from my allotment, dried herbs and chilis I got at last weekend’s great ChiliFest in Southease – Adrian there grows dozens of varieties in his unheated greenhouse.
The one and only thing I could not do without, even for a week, is salt. I’ve researched the matter and realised that there is no place in Sussex that creates its own salt. So I set off on yesterday’s Indian summer day to Bishopstone to collect 10 litres of sea water.
I strained the murky water through three layers of muslin before setting it on to boil on a charcoal/wood burning stove set up outside my back door.  After about five hours, the salty water was reduced right down and started to gloop and spit. I transferred it to a shallow bowl, where it’s sitting in the sun, turning into salt. It’s a bit grey, and strangely bitter. But it’s about a cup’s worth, plenty for my 10 days as a locavore.

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