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Monday, January 08, 2007

Lesson One: Don't Go Out Hungry

Wow! That was a very interesting weekend.

The first week was admittedly an easy ride and it was on Saturday after getting to the farmer's market and being laden with as much produce as we could carry (we can't top up mid-week remember) that hunger started to kick in. Not real proper hungry-people-hunger, but still, enough to make life become rather uncomfortable and to make us think we should go home and cook something rather than continuing to try and find butter. No stopping off at the many cafe's and snack bars, no dropping into a newsagent for a bottle of energy juice. Just feeling really tired and hungry and not being able to eat anything as its all raw and needs cooking. When you take it for granted its hard to really imagine what that will feel like. What I found interesting was that it was actually really easy to see it as not an option. I mean it would be so easy to just think 'well i must have something to eat' and break the rule. But now that rule is there, its like an invisible wall between me and Starbucks. Which I think might be a good thing but I am sure it could be a bit dangerous to make up rules and then completely believe them even though they are only made up. Probably if was really genuinely hungry and not just having a sugar crisis I would throw the rule out of the window. Still I was surprised by how completely I had closed off from the possibility of eating outside the diet. I am sure everyone who was at D and K's on Sunday will beg to differ (more on that later).

Finding Local Food in Richmond

We went to the farmer's market and found lots of meat and veg as expected. However, the dairy people weren't there, and the bread people weren't sure about the wheat and anyway the chances of the salt being local too were too low so we didn't get that either.

Then we realised we really needed dairy so we tried Waitrose, which was quite productive. They sell (and so do Tesco) some pastel coloured eggs at an exorbitant price which are IN. They also had several types of flour from named farms, a couple of cheese suppliers and milk from Prince Charlie's place in Gloucestershire (its REALLY REALLY YUMMY even though it costs three times as much as milk) but NO BUTTER. Lots of fancy lovely home made butters - from France, from Italy, from everywhere but IN. And no English wine (local health food shop Elderflower wine sufficed!) and all the cider was from Somerset which I think is OUT.

We also tried M&S, which label their food with sources helpfully apart from the fact that they are all ISRAEL, ARGENTINA, PERU, MEXICO, FRANCE, SPAIN, etc.

In Tesco everything is from 'Produced for Tesco' - sometimes they do give 'UK' but mostly nothing unless its a non-Tesco branded product.

The health food shops actually seem to be the vaguest. All the packaging there is about 'Organic' and 'xxx-free' so once again we suffered a lot from NEI (Not Enough Information).

We tried the Chiswick market on Sunday for butter but still no luck. I am now saving the fat from fried bacon and saving the tiny weeny little piece of butter to cook pancakes, which have been our breakfast for the past few days as the oat farmers don't seem to have tapped in to the Farmers Market phenomenon yet and the shopkeepers have no idea where they come from.

You wouldn't believe how long it takes to work out where everything comes from. I was going to do some sales shopping and use all those nice vouchers people gave me for Christmas but somehow Butter became the focus of the weekend and took up hours of my time. It still is actually.

Lessons Learnt

I propose that the next shopping trip will take the following form:

- Get up before 11am
- Eat as much as possible for breakfast
- Go to Richmond
- Get out a huge bundle of cash (local food is often considered fancy and is thus very expensive)
- Go to market
- Get whatever we can carry
- Go really quickly to another market eg barnes is quite good
- get as much as...again
- go to waitrose if desperate
- crawl home, cook large quantities and eat it. Nap then go on the internet to try and identify sources of food.

Actually that is pretty close to what happened last week except I wont be going back to M&S - all from Abroad - or Tesco - NEI. Which should save a precious hour or two which we can use for things like saving goose fat.

The local corner shop has actually turned out to have more useful locally produced goods than anyone. We can get eggs (Kent), apple juice(Kent) and potatoes (Essex) and that forms the basis of a healthy diet. In fact, that solves it. Egg and potato for a week sounds good to me, if it means I can go sales shopping before they put the prices back up again!

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