This week we were invited to the tenth birthday celebration of Nourish where we met old friends and new, with the conversation (rising above some fabulous ceilidh music) as engaging and eclectic as the guests. One discussion led to vegetable boxes: the optimum size and correlation with the health of Scotland. When is a box scheme too big for its own good and questionably no longer as ethical as its founder portrays? At what point do nationwide deliveries defeat its purpose? Comparing delivery zones with hospital patient patterns in Scotland, there is negligible overlap in these residential areas – a sad indictment on our eating habits and consequent health? Some would say – and indeed often challenge me on this – that this is to do with income. It is certainly often related to food deserts however outwith that caveat I would challenge that many food decisions are based on education or perceived time and not income. There needs to be sound food knowledge and cooking skills throughout our primary school system upwards to move a nation towards a healthier diet. There is no quick fix but the Good Food Nation is a very positive step.
In January, meat is always a hot topic. It’s not the cow it’s the how. Not my invention but a good sound-bite nevertheless, highlighting the nuances in meat production. The other day I heard of a certain international environmental company that will not take on oil and gas or meat companies as clients. The former is pretty obvious but, as an omnivore, I also see the logic in the latter, as “meat companies” considering carbon offsets are generally giant operations, desperate to green-wash whilst persisting in their methods: breeding poultry, pork or salmon in gargantuan units. They are as close to regenerative food production as a coalmine. Back to questions of scale, farming with nature… and common sense? The bottom line in our book (literally and metaphorically) is that ruminants were built to eat grass and greens, not grain, and for their, our planet and our own health benefits that should be the “how.” It’s all in our book.
Meanwhile Edinburgh Council has decided to go forth adopting a plant-based treaty, thereby pledging to promote vegan food over animal products on their menus, including schools, but frankly we are in Scotland, in January – are they seriously going to achieve local, environmental, unprocessed, fresh and enjoyable food without the addition of chemicals, preservatives and vitamin tablets? We’re all for appreciating a healthy wholesome seasonal vegetarian diet for those who wish it (and indeed we thoroughly enjoy vegetarian meals on a regular basis as part of a balanced diet) but what about the rights of the holistic eater who treads lightly on the planet?
There is this current mantra that all meat is bad which is simply not the case. I shall be the first to say that not all meat production is environmental but Scottish Food Guide is brimming with ethical butchers, bakers and small-scale charcuterie, cheesemongers, preservers and processors, used by fabulous chefs and cooks who care about our planet and work incredibly hard to successfully balance the seesaw of ethics and economics, flavours and food-miles. I raise my (straw) hat to you all and salute you for your tenacity and skills in a country that does not always sufficiently value or appreciate your incredible fortitude.
What’s On in February: The Scottish Bread Championship 2023 has flitted and will now be held at Bowhouse in the East Neuk of Fife during Real Bread Week. Scotland The Bread and Scottish Food Guide continue as sponsors and we are delighted the Championship has also received sponsorship from The Edinburgh Bakers Trust a registered charity whose purpose is the advancement of baking education, arts, heritage, culture and science, whose core activity is to award small grants to bakers and other related organisations.
Judging will take place behind closed doors on Thursday 23rd February at Bowhouse with eminent judges including chefs, grain experts and representatives from the Real Bread Campaign. The Championship Results will be announced on Saturday 25th February at the inaugural Scottish Real Bread Festival at Bowhouse. Previous winners are Wild Hearth Bakery, Comrie and Company Bakery, Edinburgh.
The Scottish Real Bread Festival will be a celebration of all things bread and bread-related including talks and activities, stalls and displays. Elaine Lindsay from Something Corny will be there along with other fascinating people from scientists to farmers, writers and bakers, all with knowledge to share and some with produce and books to sell. Further programme details will be published in due course on Scotland The Bread and Scottish Food Guide websites. The Scottish Bread Championship was founded by Wendy Barrie and Andrew Whitley in 2017. Both dedicated to Real Bread, baking skills and natural ingredients, they felt there was a gap needing filled in the food calendar, a need to celebrate those dedicated to making bread naturally, with wholesome ingredients and natural starters.
HOW TO ENTER
Entry Form Deadline: Wednesday 15th February 2023
There are still a few places left on our annual Cheese Champion Day in Fife, when Kathy Biss joins me and together we dive into the world of cheese: learning, making & tasting. A day of alchemy & flavours not to be missed. March 11th BOOK HERE