The Trengilly Wartha Inn near Constantine, Cornwall does a five-mile breakfast. That means every ingredient is sourced within a five mile radius of the pub. Apologies to the vegetarians, but you can even see the pigs from the front door on a clear day. Genius.
I found this hyper-local sourcing strangely enticing as a selling point and it started me thinking about where the food I eat comes from. Recently I also got round to watching Supersized Earth on my BT Vision box and watched in open-mouthed ignorance as presenter Dallas Campbell paraglided over acres of greenhouses on the Costa Del Sol. This city-sized coating of plastic on the south coast of Spain exists mainly to supply supermarkets, particularly the British ones, with tomatoes.
All this got me wondering where the food I eat comes from, and interested in creating a meal from locally sourced ingredients.
First off, I took a look at a dish I make on a regular basis – Paella – to find out how many food miles were involved. Finding precise provenance was difficult as many foods only list a country of origin – but the approximate distances give an idea of the scale of transportation involved:
Prawns from Thailand – 8600 miles (starting well)
Rice from Spain – 1500 miles
Peppers from Holland – 450miles
Onions from Holland – 450miles
Stock – unknown
Vermouth from Italy – 1400 miles
Lemon from Spain – 1500 miles
Paprika – unknown but packed in France – 700 miles
Then I set about cooking my own locally sourced meal. Being a sporting sort I gave myself 10 miles to play with and came up with a yummy mackerel dish with carrot & swede mash and leeks.
Mackerel from the local fishmongers, landed at Porthleven harbour – 0.2 miles
Swedes and potatoes from my boyfriend’s allotment – 4.2 miles
Carrots from a local farm in Godolphin – 4 miles
Coriander from the garden – 0 miles
Leeks from the grocers in Helston, grown in Goldsithney – 7.2miles
I’m not saying either of these methods is right or wrong – but it is certainly interesting to consider the scales of food production in the modern world and compare that with what is possible on a more local scale, given a bit of time and thought. It’s also interesting to put constraints on how and what you create to see what you can come up with. Whether that’s a mackerel supper or a new writing project. Yet again, a Feed (and a very foodie one at that) which has given me the time to think differently and pay attention to something I’ve never really considered before.
Tasty. In more ways than one.