Thursday, 6 October 2011

salt of the (sussex) earth

It’s day six of the Lewes locavore diet. Always one to jump in the deep end I decided to see if I could eat a normal diet just from Sussex. Since then, only food and drink from Sussex have passed my lips. I have to admit, it’s been tough. I have risen to the challenge and made my own salt; I’m starting to like its bitter taste. I miss pepper. And I’m getting physical withdrawal symptoms (headaches, aching joints) from the green tea I thought was so healthy. I can’t make salad dressings without lemons or vinegar, which as far as I can tell, is not produced in Sussex. And I simply can’t find anywhere that grows oats, which makes life rather sad, without oatcakes, porridge, muesli etc. Without imported rice and pulses, my mainly vegetarian diet has become more animal-protein based, so, lots of eggs.

When you start to break down the food you eat, you start to realize how much we depend on imported food and also preserved food, and unconsciously become part of the corporate food chain, which really doesn’t exist to feed people as much as to make money.

I managed to track down Sussex flour, though, from Plumpton Mill - restored by its owners; it was cited in the Domesday Book a thousand years ago. This water mill is a wonder to behold, one of only three now milling flour in East Sussex. It can produce 50 kilos of flour an hour; I strongly encourage people to buy this lovely flour, whose wheat is biodynamically grown at Plaw Hatch near Forest Row. Appallingly, though, despite half of Sussex seeminlgy growing wheat, it's all part of the industrial food machine: Plaw Hatch, I believe, is the only farm to grow wheat for local consumption. 

To complete the local cycle, I got some sourdough starter from my friend Grace and have made two handsome loaves of sourdough – it’s so easy. As I write I’m mentally peppering this with exclamation marks. I suppose what’s emerging from this diet is that despite the hardships, I’m also finding that eating from my terrain is terrifically exciting.

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