Once apon a time eating was all a part of the joy of traveling, but as my life has changed through knowledge and health (or lack of) the need to find good, healthy, fresh food has turned eating while traveling into a challenge.
I love food, I’ve always been a try everything type, I love tasting the local specialties however weird and I’m always happy to sip the local beverage on the side. A growing awareness of organics failed to have much impact on that general view as I convinced myself that local specialties would surely be made from locally grown produce…..probably organic (ish) and anyway when on holidays we don’t want to think too much! Being in the business of growing food though means being increasingly aware of what it takes to grow good food and how many producers are happy to take the chemical option.
I was talking with a French friend the other day who told me he had sold organic cauliflowers to a cauliflower farmer, the farmer had trucked his produce to the market then bought my friend ‘s organic ones ! Farmers concerned about feeding their own produce to their families, now that’s a worry.
Buying super market organic veg is tricky, it tends to be the most packaged (in plastic), has often travelled the furthest and often looks plain tired(and for that we pay extra!Of course their are local markets and roadside stalls (great if you know enough of the local language to chat with the producers) and occasionally we have been lucky enough to find local organic producers (and stocked up big time) but on the whole it’s been challenging especially in the fresh greens department which we eat masses of when at home.
Then I started looking around me (really looking) at the road verges, the paths along the forest walks we were doing, the vacant lots and realised the great abundance of food that surrounds us all the time if only we know how to see it. Here we find plants that are growing in their chosen place, healthy, vigorous, local and in season. There are a few I know and feel confident with, but many more that I wish I knew about. I found one little book in French about local edible weeds but really many of the weeds are common and I often found myself wishing I had spent more time studying them.
Of course just because they are wild doesn’t mean they are spray free, I would pay careful attention to where you find them and always give them a good wash, but knowing you can supplement a travellers diet with plenty of fresh greens makes the food dilemma a little easier.
Just a little note……..I also believe in good guilt free eating and still enjoy going out for meals and tasting the fabulous local specialties, it’s the in between bits that I’ve tried to focus on, the times when your on the road and hanging out for fresh greens.
I’m increasingly grateful to people like Sparkles who have devoted so much time and energy to researching edible weeds and looking forward to her visit to Fair Harvest in August where she will show us not only to recognise but how to prepare our local weeds for the table…..I’m in!
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