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Our obsession with culinary excellence may very well be leading us to live an un-sustainable un-seasonal life style that is harming the planet.
We're all guilty of it, you watch Master Chef and suddenly want to impress your friends with a home made croquembouche, waiting at the doctors office you see a recipe for making your own ramen that involves 18 steps, 26 ingredients and the kind of strength mothers feel when their child is in trouble and you think 'my partner would be so impressed' so you run to the shops, buy things you can't pronounce in an effort to accomplish a new culinary excellence.
This mentality is in no way negative and it shows you are passionate about cooking and like doing things for those around you. But what if we could flip it around? Taking the steps to let food come to you rather than hunting for food could be the easiest way to really start living a local, seasonal and more sustainable life style.
Modern day supermarkets have bred our food to our 'desires' and those desires are what need to change. Once upon a time if you wanted an apple in December, you had to wait until March, but not anymore. Thanks to an old wives tale we've come to believe we need an apple a day, for 365 days of the year. The problem with this? Apples can't grow 365 days of the year, so that apple your eating on Christmas morning has been in storage for around 10 months.
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We've bred our food for so long that we've forgotten not all carrots are meant to be the same size, colour and width. We also forget that this aesthetic conformity means that farmers are struggling to make sure their fruit and veg is uniform so that they can sell it on.
The obsession with having whatever we want when we want it has turned the food production industry into one that sells you a false reality. The smoke and mirrors are kept up by an exhausting cycle of picking food too early, driving it around for too long, putting it to sleep in factories and then chemically waking it up- all so you can eat blueberries in winter.
A local, seasonal diet is a simple, yet effective step you can take to significantly reduce your carbon footprint. All it takes is a little planning.
Save energy by shopping close to home get your veggies from your local grocer and if you choose to eat meat look for a butcher that sources sustainably farmed produce (and try to cut your meat consumption by 50%). Not only is this a great way to cut down on travel time and food miles but it also fosters a community within your neighbourhood, just the other day my green grocer gave me a banana to eat while I was walking around the shop, because they were the best he'd tasted in years!
Buy what is there
Try not to walk in with an idea of what you want to cook but walk in and figure out what you can cook with what is available. Check signs to make sure your not accidentally buying garlic from Mexico and Onions from china, if you can't find something that's from Australia you probably shouldn't be eating it right now.
This step can also help with the burning desire for culinary excellence, consider it your own challenge and chances are you'll impress yourself more.
Tip: produce that is in season will often be in the front of a shop, in abundance, and going relatively cheap.
Grow a little
You don't have to be an extraordinary gardener to bulk up your meals and cut down your food bill. Start of with some easy to grow herbs, they're expensive to buy and when they've been ripped out of the ground and popped in plastic they're not going to last long. When you grow a little herb garden you can pick what you need as you need it
It is about time we allow our vegetables and fruit to be vegetables and fruit. Lets change the way we shop and the way we've been conditioned to buy food. When you see a wonky looking carrot nab it up, and awkward eggplant? Take him home. Your produce needs to be local and in season, not pretty and available.
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