Forget diets, food’s too important

DIY birds nest – but can you DIY your food choices to ensure good value, locally grown, possibly organic and seasonal?

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post looks at family food choices during the UK’s hungry gap… For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting, click here.

It’s May – I’ve just been for a wet walk with the dog to collect the tips of goose grass (cleavers/sticky willy) to use in my next cuppa. Then I drank this mix looking at the tempting Featherdown Farm (glamping!) brochure all the while despairing of my organic veg bag – there’s still another month before UK produce gets super tasty with asparagus, strawberries, salad greens etc.  So does what we eat – and where we buy it from – make any difference anyway?

Staying with friends in Yorkshire over new year my partner Pete offered to buy the bacon for her family of four boys. As a non-meat eater Pete found this a curious experience. Do you know how expensive bacon is? A packet of bog-standard Co-operative shop bought bacon costs £6!  As Pete said to me privately after this (he likes to feel he has short arms and long pockets), “it must be difficult being poor if you are a meat eater who really wants to eat meat every day”. The cost of meat was one of the reasons I gave eating meat up, as a uni student years ago, it just seemed unaffordable.

It’s not just the price
Six years ago we moved to an area of London where there only seemed to be family-run supermarkets. It wasn’t long before Lidl (a discount store) opened, then a Tesco Express, and now a Sainsburys Local.

In a bid to try and support those smaller, independent food shops a friendly neighbour recently organised for Ozzy and Suleyman (who run a brilliant corner shop for long hours) to get an award. All the neighbours turned up for a photo that was also published in the local newspaper – hopefully providing an extra burst of publicity for their shop.

Dealing with choice
In  a recent online Ecologist scorn was heaped on the people whose new year’s resolutions were to give up smoking, drink less (or nothing) or go on a diet. No less scorn was handed out for those tightening the belt at Lent. Instead the Ecologist’s suggestion was to rethink food choices so that people:

  • Eat less meat
  • Eat organic
  • Grow more of your own food
  • Support local food shops, especially bakers, greengrocers, butchers etc.

Can it be done?
Shopping or eating this way when you have a baby is easy – you just carry them around in the sling/baby carrier or cruise in with your buggy and shopping bags.

It starts getting harder once your child is a toddler and shows interest in those biscuit towers or neat heaps of clementines in narrow aisles. But the pay back is as your child gets older and becomes more interested in making their own food choices they seem to understand via tastebuds and brain that having ethical food resolutions makes tasty meals – and sustainable farming.

Over to you
What tricks do you use to keep your child/ren eating seasonal food? How do you find shops that will stock local produce? Have you got any ideas about how to serve up vegan meals more often? All tips welcomed. Thanks.

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2 Comments on “Forget diets, food’s too important”

  1. Karin Says:

    Our Riverford boxes have started to have asparagus and salad veg in them, although from Spain and France, not UK. As to meat, we only have it 2 or 3 times a week and there is a good choice of Britihs organic meat in the local supermarkets, which is cheaper than from Riverford. Smaller local butchers don’t supply it,

    • homemadekids Says:

      Hi Karin, glad you’ve found Riverford good. I’ve really enjoyed reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which stresses the locavore (local eating) angle. It has made me look afresh at what’s on the table. But I don’t wish to be too rigid either as food is one of life’s pleasures too.

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