Big supermarkets have now so artificially lowered the price of importing out of season foods that we are in danger of taking them for granted.
I recently saw a packet of blackberries, grown in Mexico, on a shelf in Tesco on Hackney Road for £2.50. So used to being able to buy foodstuffs regardless of location or season, I nearly bought fruit grown 5,500 miles away that would be ripening in nearby hedge rows eight months later.
Nicky Spear, co-founder of Food For Thought (FFT) thinks it’s time to start thinking about alternative ways to eat, and the answer is sitting on our doorsteps. FFT is a new series of monthly events taking place at the Russet Café in Hackney Downs aiming to get people talking positively about how we can change our habits to eat more responsibly.
“We’re trying to create an open community space for people to come and learn where their food comes from,” says Nicky. “Food is at the heart of everything we do. If you’re lucky enough to have three meals a day you should think about the food you eat. It makes such a difference how it’s farmed, how it’s produced, how it’s processed.”
Launched by Nicky, who works for green social network Project Dirt, and Steve Wilson, head chef at the Russet, FTT is an opportunity to eat delicious ethically sourced food, listen to speakers from the industry, watch live music and meet new people.
The inaugural night featured a talk from local food champion Sarah Bentley, founder of Made In Hackney, speaking about programmes to help communities source food locally and live healthily on tight budgets.
We also heard from Dr Lucy Gilliam of New Dawn Traders, shedding light on the vast carbon footprint left by shipping freighters and the growth of the slow food movement, while Mia Manners from the Islington and Notting Hill Gate Farmer’s Markets, talked about the hidden cost of food imports and the impact of concealing the real price of imports.
Future FFT events in the pipeline will look at local food, foraging, raw food versus cooked and a workshop around the topic of food and science to see how we can be creative with food.
“I am really against preaching,” says Nicky. “The worst thing you can do to anyone is tell someone they’re doing something wrong.
The way to do it is let people explore and find for themselves. We’re here to talk about what’s going on and what can be done. It’s about small steps and helping people get there by kick-starting conversations. You have to vote with your fork.”
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