"You are what you eat”.
Now, this may be a saying that is a tad over-used, but essentially – it’s true. And most importantly, what we eat not only affects our body shape, it heavily affect our mood.
Thus food poverty – which is defined as the inability to afford or access healthy food – not only restricts low-income groups with regards to lack of sustenance, it can also heavily affect one’s mental state, putting people at a higher risk for depression.
As day 2 comes to a close of the #BreadlineChallenge, the above is a fact that is at the forefront of my mind (read more about why I'm doing this challenge here). Food makes me happy. Sourcing it, cooking it, eating it – alongside family and friends – is most definitely very near the top of my favourite things to do. For those less fortunate, the pleasure of enjoying a simple meal is a luxury both physically and psychologically that I admittedly take for granted. It’s also safe to say that for those affected by food poverty, the lack of a decent meal is not the sole concern, with other financial and social pressures affecting how day to day priorities are juggled.
Along with sticking to the £2.50 a day budget set by FoodCycle for the Breadline Challenge, I also set myself the following challenges to ensure my diet was varied, healthy and nutritious – and left me upbeat and excited for my next meal!
So, how’s it going for me so far? Here are my thoughts to date:
I’m only 5 meals down – so more insights to come later this week!!
Could you donate the price of your morning coffee and help fight food poverty? Help fight the battle against food poverty and donate here.
From the 21st – 27th November 2016, I will be taking part in the Breadline Challenge to raise awareness of rising food poverty here in the UK and raising vital funds for FoodCycle’s work across the country.
I’ll be living off £2.50 per day for all my food and drink, a total of £17.50 for the week.
Why £2.50? This is the 2015 average food and drink spend of people in the Northern Housing Consortium’s Real Life Reform reports, which highlights that the average money left after bills is £17.72 per week or £2.53 each day, an amount many spend on their morning coffee without thinking twice.
Many of you will know that I do love a challenge (particularly a food related one), and personally this challenge is made easier by the fact that I know there is light at the end of the tunnel – after all I’m only doing this for a week. But for thousands of people in the UK, including many of those I work with at FoodCycle Lewisham, it’s an ongoing struggle to feed themselves and their families with nutritious food.
Although the UK is the seventh richest country in the world, many people struggle to afford food. The following hard hitting food poverty statistics by Oxfam show that more needs to be done to campaign for a system where everyone can afford to feed their family with dignity.
A deep-rooted issue linked to a number of factors, it’s clear there is no quick fix. FoodCycle's Breadline Challenge is undoubtedly going to be an eye-opening experience into the nutritional and social limitations that food poverty brings.
Over the next few 10 days, I'll be blogging about my Breadline Challenge experience, including details on the planning process, (I do love a list), where I sourced my ingredients and recipes.
Could you donate the price of your morning coffee and help fight food poverty?
Help fight the battle against food poverty and donate here.
In a world of declining resources, food insecurity and rising food wastage, I recently teamed up with a small group of local businesses to put Kid Goat on the menu in Dorking to raise awareness of this delicious, ethical and underestimated meat. Find out all about Goatober here.
This Kid Goat burger recipe is courtesy of The Salt Box Sandwich Co and went down a treat at the #Goatober event at The Cricketers Pub in Dorking on Wednesday 19th October.
Jalfrezi Curry Paste (makes 1/2 a cup)
For the Burgers (makes 4)
Butternut Squash Bhaji (makes 4-5 large)
Lime & Pickle Slaw
Coriander & Buttermilk Sauce
To assemble the burgers:
Ahead of this month's #Goatober campaign, I visited Lizzie Dyer of Cotswold Kid Meat, where we will be sourcing our kid goat meat. Lizzie is one of the UK’s few farmers who raises her billy kids free range and pasture fed. You can read more about putting kid goat on the menu in my recent post.
I was lucky to get my hands on a rack of kid from Lizzie to start experimenting with cooking with kid meat ahead of the campaign. We made a moroccan inspired dinner that confirmed to me what I keep hearing - kid goat is delicious. Unlike its adult counterpart, kid goat is mild and tender, with a sweet delicate flavour.
Together with The Salt Box, we are launching a local #Goatober campaign in Dorking, Surrey. Find out more about what's on here.
To try kid goat at home, speak to your local butcher, contact Cotswold Kid Meat or even order through Ocado thanks to kid goat supplier Cabrito.
RACK OF KID WITH MOROCCAN COUSCOUS
For the Meat:
For the Marinade:
For the Moroccan CousCous:
For the Yogurt Dip:
Slaughtering animals immediately after birth simply because they are deemed worthless for the UK market is an awful waste of life and resources – don’t you think? #Goatober aims to raise awareness of this previously wasted resource with its inaugural campaign hitting the UK this October
With a steadily increasing demand for goat’s cheese and goat’s milk, we are slowly starting to consider the fate of male billy kid goats, often seen as a waste by-product within the dairy industry, euthanized at birth, or sold as meat for hunts. Up to 40,000 young billies are killed every year, with only 1% of billy kids kept for breeding. We’re throwing away an ethical protein source - when did you last see goat meat let alone kid goat on your supermarket shelves?
In a world of declining resources, food insecurity and rising food wastage, it’s about time we started eating more of this delicious, ethical and underestimated meat. For us Brits, it may come as somewhat of a surprise to learn that goat meat is the most widely eaten meat in the world. So, why has it taken us Brits so long to catch on? Chicken. Pork. Lamb. Beef. We are creatures of habit and we are increasingly detached from the food on our plates.
And here’s the thing. As soon as I mention eating goat to friends and family – the response has been solely along the lines of “I vaguely remember once having a Caribbean goat curry”. Adult goat, much like mutton, is generally slow cooked - to combat its reputation for being tough, and steeped in (admittedly very tasty) strong spices. However - unlike its adult counterpart, kid goat is mild and tender, with a sweet delicate flavour. I first experienced Kid Goat just last week and it was delicious, I’m sold.
The even better news? The meat is highly nutritious, lower in fat than beef or pork, has twice as much iron as beef and is rich in potassium. Data provided by U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) even indicates that goat meat has the lowest amount of saturated fat and cholesterol than other meats cooked in a similar way.
I recently set myself the challenge of a “supermarket siesta”, eliminating the one-stop-shop visit to the “big five” and focusing on sourcing locally grown, reared and produced food from local businesses within the area I live (Reigate) and work (Dorking).
There were many a reason for this initiative, which I came to call “#BeckieEatsLocal”. I explore these in more detail in my recent post “Eating Locally: The Challenge”, but to summarize it boiled down to the following:
Surrey is full to the brim with alternatives to the chore of the soul-less supermarket. Here are my local stars that fuelled me through 6 weeks (and counting) of my #BeckieEatsLocal challenge.
Kingfisher Farm Shop
Famous for it's watercress, Kingfisher Farm Shop is a family run business which opened it's doors in 1971. They've got a fully stocked shop of fruit & vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products and naughty treats, as well as a fabulous flower/plant shop. As expected, they source as much regional and local food as available. They label the origin of all their fruits and vegetables making it super easy to opt for the most local of produce available!
Address: Abinger Hammer, Dorking RH5 6QX
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm
Type in “beef cheeks” on Food.com and there are 5 measly recipes for beef cheeks. Type in “beef” - you’re confronted with 49,234 results. It's safe to say the beef cheek isn’t a particularly popular cut of meat.
In my recent post, 'Sustainably sourced meat and nose-to-tail cooking - the beginning' - I reflect on my somewhat strong belief that it can be sustainable to eat meat, we just need to ensure its farmed properly, invest in learning about its provenance and traceability, and get back to consuming each and every part of an animal so nothing is wasted. Twice a month, I’m planning on posting a new recipe utilising a less popular cut of meat and this time around, it’s time for the beef cheeks to have ten minutes of fame.
As you’ve probably guessed, beef cheeks (sometimes called ox cheeks) are the facial cheek muscle of a cow. The life of a cow is primarily grazing (ideally on grass, but more often than not on grain); therefore the cheek is pretty much almost constantly working throughout the animal’s life, making it a rather tough cut of meat.
A quick search on BBC Food returned just 5 recipes when I searched for 'lamb breast' - a stark contrast to compared to 489 'lamb chop' recipes. In my recent post, 'Sustainably sourced meat and nose-to-tail cooking - the beginning' - I reflect on my somewhat strong belief that it can be sustainable to eat meat, let’s just farm it properly, invest in learning about its provenance and traceability, and get back to consuming each and every part of an animal so nothing is wasted.
Every two weeks, I’m going to be posting a new recipe utilising a less popular cut of meat. Over time, my goal is to eat my way through all of the cuts of a lamb, cow and pig (bear with me though, most of the time I’m cooking for 1!).
Lamb breast (or belly) is one of the least expensive cuts of lamb. It's full of flavour and needs to be cooked slowly so that much of the fat can melt off and be discarded from the roasting tin.
Off the bone, it looks like a flap of skin made predominantly of fat, cut through with sparse slivers of pinkish flesh. By cooking it slowly, you are left with meltingly tender meat and a really crispy skin which has lots of flavour.
The recipe is based on one provided by the chaps at Dorking Butchery. The lamb was incredibly tender with a great spicy kick to it - I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely cook again, perhaps in a rolled lamb breast dish along the lines of this recipe..
My quest to eat more sustainably has inevitably led me into more consideration not only on where I source my meat, but on a nose-to-tail approach to cooking parts of the animal you can’t find in the plastic wrapped, uniformity of mass supermarket meat retailing.
I am very much aware that there is a wide spectrum of opinions on all-things meat consumption related, depending on whether your perspective focuses on feeding people, animal rights or sustainability. The opinions expressed here represent my own, sourced from a vast number of reliable online sources. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section.
Yes - it is simply more efficient to eat plants than to feed those plants to animals and eat meat, taking into consideration water use, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, land-use footprints, and just about anything else. Yes - there is a connection between the increase in the world’s livestock numbers, their consumption of grain and human malnutrition. But no, I am not of the opinion that the sole ethical response is to stop eating meat altogether.
Since University, I’ve worked in a variety of marketing roles within the corporate world. Meetings, objectives, targets, deadlines. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Over the past few years, I’ve struggled more and more with the fact that what I do as my 9-5 lacks a sense of “social” purpose – a healthy balance sheet and a virtual “high-five” across the pond just doesn’t cut it for me. Last summer, I left a pretty amazing job that involved a lot of travelling around the world, for the opportunity to regain a sense of routine, a stab at a work-life balance and thus the time to do more of the things I feel strongly about in my free time - namely getting involved in a sustainable food initiative.
Through my passion for all things food-waste related, I’ve been following FoodCycle for the past few years. FoodCycle is a national charity that combines volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation. They run over 29 projects across the UK, united by the simple idea that food waste and food poverty should not co-exist. They share a common belief that a meal prepared with love and shared with friends is a meal that feeds not only the stomach, but the mind and soul as well. Since they started cooking in May 2009, FoodCycle have served over 125,000 meals made using over 146,000kg of surplus food – the equivalent saving of 657,000kg CO2 emissions.
Wonky Parsnips is an awareness-raising blog that aims to change the way we engage with food.
22nd November 2016: Breadline Challenge - You are what you eat
17th November 2016: Taking on the Breadline Challenge
21st October 2016 - Recipe: #Goatober Jalfrezi Kid Goat & Butternut Bhaji Burger
3rd October 2016 - Recipe: Rack of Kid Goat with Moroccan Couscous
1st October 2016 - Putting Kid Goat on the Menu for the UK's first #Goatober Campaign
12th September 2016 - Eating Locally: My Top 5 Local Businesses
8th September 2016 - Nose-to-Tail Recipe: Pomegranate Beef Cheeks with Butternut Mash
16th August 2016 -
Nose-to-Tail Recipe: Caribbean Lamb Breast with Grilled Pineapple Salsa
16th August 2016 - Sustainably Sourced Meat + Nose-to-Tail Cooking: The Beginning
10th August 2016 - Volunteering with FoodCycle
7th August 2016 - How Slovenia Tackles Food Waste
2nd August 2016 - Recipe: Raw Broccoli Stem and Green Apple 'Ceviche' Salad
18th July 2016 - Eating Locally - The Challenge
13th July 2016 - 10 Practical Tips to Reduce Food Waste at Home
7th July 2016 - 8 Brands Tackling Food Waste