Turn on the telly and you’re likely to catch a bearded man foraging on Channel 4 or a BBC fledgling MasterChef shouting about seasonal and local; look at your bookshelf and you’ve probably got at least one over-priced TV-endorsed cookbook which you’ve barely opened. Yet despite our recent ‘food renaissance’, some of the most obvious sources of local and seasonal food don’t feature in our shops, on our shopping lists or even on our culinary radars.
This little bunny hops and jumps and stumbles on the latest food trends.
I’d rather wait for Clint Eastwood to ride into the distance after nailing a few bad cowboys than for all the dust to settle this week from the ‘foodstorm’ fallouts. At least you know where you are: dead or alive. As it stands, this little bunny has no idea what to eat right now (well actually, that is a lie, dandelions are out and they are tenderest at this time of year) but back to the media: do you a) eat red meat and risk bowel cancer? b) stop buying local because it’s apparently all a con? c) mourn the passing of the faggot because the word has another meaning d) don’t buy organic because it’s not necessarily better for you but organic milk is? e) start drinking ‘gourmet’ tea because the coffee revolution is over? f) buy a Cornish pasty with a top crimp even if it’s illegal? I could go on, but this crazy hopping and jumping all over the place is not getting any of us anywhere. I want to buy and eat food which is good for me and good for the producer. Simple? You’d have thought so.
I’m with Rose Prince on this: it is all an attempt to avoid the bigger food issues – environmental, waste, and supply. The more we are embroiled in the detail, the smaller the bigger picture becomes. Conspiracy theories aside, my own reaction has been to immerse myself in the ‘real’ issues of food. After seeing Tristram Stuart, author of Waste, speak down at The Poly in Falmouth, I have bought the book, am thinking about the T-shirt and dabbling in the idea of freeganism. His is an intelligent, moral standpoint on the absurd waste of food that we are all implicated in somehow, be it directly or indirectly. I am the world’s best at recycling bones, cold meat, limp veg and sad fruit and gain huge satisfaction from doing so. But I don’t think it’s enough anymore. We need to change not only our eating habits but the habits of those supplying us.
Offal Isn’t Awful is one of the chapters in the book. Having partaken in my own personal offal quest around Sicily a few moons ago, from lungs in a bun to intestines twiddled round a spring onion, a lot of other countries eat meat more intelligently than we do, showing more respect to the animal as a consequence. I am about to begin a Cornish offal quest that kicks off with pig’s brawn. It’s down to my local butcher’s to order up that all important pig’s head. Squeamish and a meat-eater? P-lease, join the veggies and murder some carrots. This column is for real meat eaters who care, watch this space for how to prepare and eat brawn and by doing so you will be side-stepping the superfice of food fads and entering into the arena of intelligent eating.