This week the temperature in our flat hit 25 degrees without any artificial heating. It’s only rained once this week. The sun has been out 4 of the last 7 days.
Spring has arrived.
And with spring’s arrival I get three main itches: to minimise my belongings, to get outside more (photography/exercise/fun), and to eat more fresh food.
That last one — that’s the one which feels both the hardest, and the most possible. It’s possibly the most important, too.
Why is this important?
I want to be healthy.
I want to know what I’m putting into my body.
It’s nice to be in tune with the land (not the main reason, but a nice thought if I’m doing it anyway).
I like supporting local businesses.
I agree with cheap and tasty sustenance.
However, there are four key blocks with changing our diet in practise: Convenience, Cost, Availability & Will-We-Eat-It.
Convenience. We live in a village (actually, it’s called a “local government sub-division” but whatever) with 2 local mini-mart shops — one at each end of the road. For anything more than milk, crisps and beer, we need to drive to a shop, which is automatically an extra effort.
Our nearest town centre doesn’t have a market, but it has a greengrocer, a frozen food shop and a pound shop. When we shop there, we get fresh, local fruit and vegetables, cheap toiletries and frozen meat.
If we travel a little further, on the right day, we can get to a town market; with mostly clothes and incense stalls, but some food tables are available. Slightly further away, we have a massive supermarket, where we have loyalty cards and there’s free parking.
Cost. On some of the stalls in the market, the prices are more than that of a supermarket. I don’t mind paying more for local produce, but twice the price on every item just isn’t feasible long term (especially when trying to talk my partner into getting it). In the supermarket, we get 1kg apples, out of season, for a quid.
Availability. I’m a fussy eater. But I know this, and I push my boundaries. In 2014, I added eight new vegetables to the list of foods I eat. So far in 2015, I’ve discovered I can eat three more.
So although I’m fussy eater, and that limits me, I do eat fresh food and I do try new foods. But the chance of a local market or greengrocer having the items we both eat, within our budget, at the time we shop — it isn’t that high. We usually get apples and grapes, but if we were to increase our fresh food intake, realistically we’d need more variety and that tends to be a block when I take into account the likelihood it will be eaten, especially if I don’t like it.
Will-We-Eat-It. We consume a lot of processed food. I never had crisps as a child, so they’re something I relish having as an adult. My partner grew up with fizzy drinks and there is constantly a bottle open, though I rarely drink them. He snacks on prezels and tortilla chips, while I tend to snack on cakes and crisps. We have a tiny freezer which makes our staples of pizza and processed meat important purely because chicken nuggets squish nicely into the 5 inch space.
I want to eat healthier. My partner… isn’t that bothered. He doesn’t blame his tiredness on his diet, and because he works 14-hour shifts without a scheduled lunch break; it’s really tricky to manage his eating habits.
Compromises and Measurements
This week, I bought fresh vegetables and fruit. We’re having roast tomorrow, which will be fresh with the exception of stuffing mixture and a yorkshire pudding each. We grow herbs on our windowsill, and have fruit with vanilla ice cream for dessert. We’ve made our own bread (we eat it within two days, and it’s more expensive than store bought bread for sandwiches, but as an extra snack, it’s probably healthier than pretzels.)
So rather than only buying fresh food, I’m aiming to increase our fresh food intake, and this means I’m looking for lunchtime alternatives that do not require heating and British-available fruits and vegetables that are versatile in terms of being edible raw and cooked.