Produce: The Art of It

On Pig Row we are passionate about not just the vegetables in our garden but our flowers. Without them there would be a dip in pollinators and a mammoth crash in produce. We know were our food comes from, we don't say this to be smug, anyone who grows their own will tell you it takes time, hard work and a lot of mistakes before you can bring in a crop. This is a problem many of us have today, how we interact with food and more importantly how we think food arrives on our plate.

Food from our garden cut in 5 mins, eaten in two days

For many of us our experience of food is confined to a shopping aisle. It is often quick meals that drive us, money may be a necessity for life but it should not circumscribe our lives, it should not take us away from the very heart of what makes us tick, food. In a supermarket there is the type of fruit and vegetable that somehow arrives in shrink wrapped packets. They are often lovingly graded, made to look uniform and stacked under white light. Worst still there are mushrooms placed in their own sweaty little cubicle mirroring how many of us spend our days at work. Tired, forlorn and a little pissed off at the world and the supermarket we shop in we never linger, we never question where our food comes from. Take a simple vegetable, such as a French Bean, we may naturally assume that this has something to do with France (they're actually from the Americas and came to Europe via the Spanish Conquistadors) but we never look at the label. Many of our beans come from North African countries, they are grown in arid conditions, in soil more akin to sand than earth. It is a dirty little secret of cheap vegetables that the cost to produce them is stripping countries dry of their one natural resource, water. As we all know, water is the most basic food. Water tables are being depleted for the sake of cheap beans and cheaper labour. This may not be news to many of you, again I am not being smug or asking for those who are aware to feel smug, but think next time when you pick up some vegetables, wrapped in plastic that cannot be recycled that it was grown, packaged and shipped out by people who live on less money a day that you spend on your morning coffee. Then laugh at the daily papers when you read that another child failed an exam because they didn't know where potatoes came from. Do you? You may chortle and say, 'They come from the ground, you idiot'. Whose ground? And at what long term cost? During the Arab Spring Uprising UK imports where threatened as many of our vegetables and fruit come from these regions. Now consider this, each time you purchased vegetables and fruit from a state that did not support human rights, that suppressed democracy, you gave them money. You can argue that you gave that money to the supermarket but that again is another example of how we are unaware of were our food comes from. Food is life but that food should not be grown at the expense of someone else's life. This is the art of food, how the origins of food have been twisted, hidden and monetarised rather than being central to our lives. If you think about it, all our food now exists on the fringes of our society, our supermarkets, food chains and farms are all our of town. How do we change this? Watch the video below, see how you can change how you get your food, how you eat it and how you can make sure it is central to your life, your children's lives and the lives of the community. We have allowed our food and our community spirit to remain on the fringes for too long, it is now, more than ever that we have to make them central to a new way of life, a way of life that was once everyday, that we have forgotten in the pursuit of plastic wrapped dreams. If you think this is just the rambling of a fantasist. I ask you to look at the petrol pumps, see how the prices are risings and will continue to rise and ask, how much will my food cost me from North Africa in two years? Ten years? Twenty years? How much will this piece of plastic container cost me? Now, how much would it cost me to set up a scheme in my town to grow fruit and vegetables? How much would it cost me to grow my own? How much would it cost me to pass that knowledge on to a new generation? Now I know I like to get a bargain, and I am sure plenty of you out there adore a bargain, then why are we giving up the greatest bargain of our lives?