Look in your pantry

As you do on a Sunday morning, I decided to pull everything out of the pantry and onto the kitchen floor, there is a reason for my madness. 

  1. I wanted to see where our food came from around the world
  2. I wanted to see what we actually had in the pantry that was actually food and not just junk full of sugar, additives and preservatives
  3. I wanted to know what we had that never got used and get rid of anything out of date

The only things that went back into the pantry were those things that were

  1. Home made (jams, preserves etc)
  2. Locally made (market purchases of preserves etc)
  3. NZ produced and made (these had to be 100% NZ, no NZ & imported ingredients)

Everything else went into the cupboard in the laundry. Not to be thrown out, not to be left unused, but to remind us of the extra effort these foods require, the carbon miles they accrue just to get to us. We had food from Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka, America, Italy and China to name but a few. Much of it was organic, most of it was actually in the “real food” category, so it wasn’t too bad a pile. However, it disturbed me to see things I consider to be basic necessities that are all imported.

All our oils, pasta, rice, vinegars and sugar, possibly the flour too but I’m checking up on that one, all come from some other country. We live in a wine growing country, how hard is it to turn some of those grapes into vinegars? We have a huge sugar factory that makes sugar products, golden syrup etc, but all the sugar comes from overseas (probably Australia so not too far but still). We live in a world that takes food for granted, we don’t bother to think how far that item has had to travel, the working conditions of those growing or processing it for distribution, the chemicals going into the ground to produce it, the unsustainable conditions used. I remember earlier in the year feeling “uncomfortable” that our bananas came from Ecuador (not even Australia!) because we had decided to choose organic and I didn’t want anyone deprived of fruit (bananas were actually one thing I really wanted in those first months of my pregnancy, I was eating at least one a day when normally I might have one a year). Now I’m afraid if anyone wants bananas they will have to settle for our home grown “lady finger” variety and may even have to deal with frozen over fresh.

I dragged Craig out of bed to join me over the food pile and waited (im)patiently for Buffie to also wake up, I needed to draw them both into this discovery, discussion and new plan. We are going to try to be “Locavores” of some type. We are going to attempt to buy locally grown, locally made products, expand that to NZ wide and include a few special items such as herbs & spices (as they require very little to produce and transport), Fair Trade chocolate & coffee and also sugar. We are going to try to put nothing in the pantry that does not fit this category. (oh crap!). 

So far I have a local source of goats milk for us, I’m working on the cows milk. We can get oil from the local market but it’s going to be very very expensive considering how much we use (especially during the preserving seasons). We are about to get a grain mill so will mill our own grain for flour. Oh, there is one more exception area and that is for Buffie, she’s allergic to the wheat family and can’t have lactose. Because this has already wrought huge changes to her life and diet we don’t wont to make life more difficult for her at home, so she gets to have a few extra special items (such as soy & rice milk, rice crackers etc). We will start to work towards making our own flours for making bread, pastry & pasta for her at some point.

I need to find a source of vinegar for all my preserving and how on earth am I going to substitute vegemite!

I used up the last of the flour tonight to make 4 loaves of courgette bread (to freeze) and potato, courgette & corn fritters for dinner. Interestingly, I made Buffie’s courgette fritters with Quinoa flour and they tasted better then the other ones, had more flavour to them and held together better, so I think that recipe will happily get the locally grown switcharoo.

I’m really looking forward to the market this weekend now, I need bread from our local baker and pasta from the pasta guys, as well as mounds of fruit and veg that we didn’t grow or grow enough of so that I can start getting winter soups and things into the freezer (potato & leek, and tomato are the top of the list). I’m also going to have to pop into the butchers for some chicken carcasses to make up some stock.

So to end, I want everyone reading this to have a quick look in your pantry, check out where your food is coming from, what’s in it, do you use it? I’d be interested to hear if others move further towards  the locavore mindset too.

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7 responses

  1. Great post Tracey. It got me thinking, with all the politicians pushing for globalization, the grassroots movement is for homemade and locally grown. The whole world would be better off for that.

  2. hello :O)

    just came from Kim’s link to your post… i live in the usa… ok… so yeh, i get that ‘we’ consume way too much and that ‘we’ are an import haven of sorts… but i do not personally take that for granted… i love to eat a great variety of foods and i think about other countries as wonderful and to be discovered in any way i can… on my small budget… so when i buy a banana i hope it came from Africa, and if i buy pasta i would be happy to note that at least the product was inspired by Italy, and when i have coffee i want it to come from Brazil…. i want to feel a part of the world as a small place after all and that we are all in it together…. we walk on the same soil and share waters from the same oceans and look up at the same planets and stars…. and share the same wind…… i love that part of my pantry…. in fact i am going to go check it out just to celebrate the imports… the sharing of our local grown commodities with others is like hosting a meal between other lands to me and i for one am very pleased to buy from one and all… locally fruits and veggies, and far far away as well….

    i love how aware you are and how much you care for your family and your community, more power to you! and blessings from the usa to you; if you should eat from ‘our’ land of plenty, i would feel honored to share :O) can i send you a jar of homemade grape jelly from locally grown grapes??? :OD i would really love to!?

  3. Came by via Kim’s link..
    and I think it’s an awesome IDEA!
    I do this every year, go thru and check to see what am eating..and what is still on the shelves.
    The 2 items i know it would be hard to give up is my seaweed from Korea. I would be lost if i couldn’t make Sushi…
    Thanks!
    this was a great read!

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