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Think global, act local

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The 5th of June was World Environment Day and the topic on everyone’s agenda was plastic. Did you know that more than 13 million tons of plastic waste ends up in our streets, parks and waterways every year? By 2050, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish.Most of the daily plastic packaging we use is for food – and most of this food (in fact 95% of the fruit and 50% of the vegetables we consume in the UK) is imported. Although reducing plastic must be a priority, I firmly believe that we should also be encouraged to eat more locally grown food. We are so lucky in the UK with the abundance and range of seasonal fruits and vegetables – especially in the summer months.

But don’t get me wrong, I do love tropical fruit, but I often have moments of realisation, as I eat my acai bowl, as to the amount of air miles – or ‘food miles’ – behind every bite of deliciousness.

‘Food Miles’ can be defined as the distance a food has travelled from its point of origin to our kitchens. In addition to the reduction in CO2 emissions from the air, sea and land transportation of these foods, studies have shown that it would be more financially beneficial for UK consumers to buy food locally (it’s estimated that buying food originating from within a 20km radius would save over £2 billion in fuel and environmental costs per year).

And it’s not just mileage that’s a worry, but also the huge drain on resources required to produce foods like avocados and almonds – it takes a whopping 72 gallons of water to grow a pound of avocados, and a terrifying 1-gallon of water to produce 1 almond…

But ultimately, it’s unrealistic for us to abandon our ‘superfood’ demands overnight, but little by little we can reduce the quantity we consume and be more mindful of our purchasing habits. We can try to buy fair trade, organic and ethically sourced produce where possible, and shop at supermarkets that are conscious of the impact their business has on the global food and farming industry.

We can also explore other foods produced at home like locally grown potassium-rich foods like leafy greens (spinach, broccoli, kale, cabbage), sweet potato, mushrooms and eggs. Chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts can be eaten instead of vast amounts of almonds. During the autumn and winter months a daily avocado can be replaced with numerous root vegetables such as squash, marrow and pumpkin that are all bursting with antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. And quinoa can be replaced with protein-packed pulses such as lentils and beans. And did you know that even brussel sprouts have more vitamin C than oranges!

Above all, be mindful of where your food has come from and enjoy embracing the abundant delicious and nourishing possibilities of fresh, local, seasonal produce. For more info on what’s in season, check out the BBC’s Seasonality Table.

And on that note, here’s one of my favourite summer evening supper recipes featuring some of the vegetables which are in season in June 😊 Peas, broad beans and mint are packed full of goodness and taste delightful together –especially with some zesty lemon for a bit of a summer zing!

Fusilli, Broad Beans & Pea Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of broad beans
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1 1/2 cups of fusilli pasta (I like to use whole-wheat or buckwheat)
  • 1 large handful of fresh mint (finely chopped)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Rind of ¼ lemon (finely sliced)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Place the pasta in a saucepan and cover with water, adding a pinch of salt. You’ll need enough water for when you add in the beans and peas, so make sure the water level is about 2 inches higher than the pasta. Turn on a high heat and bring to the boil.
  2. After about 5 minutes, when the pasta is still chewy but almost ready (depending on the kind of pasta you’re using this may take longer than 5 minutes), add in the beans and peas and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Drain off the water and cover in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and lemon juice to prevent it sticking together and to let the flavours soak in.
  4. Then take half of the lemon, cut it in half again and finely slice up the rind and add it to the pasta.
  5. Once cooled, add the mint leaves, the rest of the olive oil and the black pepper – and a pinch of salt to taste.
  6. Give it a good stir and serve with extra torn mint 😊

Special thank you to the wonderful Amelia Stewart from CookFirst for this insightful piece and delectable recipe. For more info on CookFirst, please visit www.cookfirst.co.uk