Thursday, 10 September 2009

On my soap box

I watched Countryfile on Sunday evening as we ate our roast chicken with all homegrown vegetables... ah... gives you a warm feeling of righteousness, doesn't it?! Anyway, one article was about British apples. Apparently as recently as the 1970s sixty percent of the apples sold in this country were grown in the UK. Now that percentage is a mere 10. That's a bit shocking. British apples are in season between September and April so at this time of year there should be no excuse. My own apple tree is heavily laden with ripening fruit. Being an early cropper the apples don't store well so I have to process them in some way to preserve them. Bad timing really given the simultaneous cropping of my plums, not to mention all those cucurbits! Still, I'll not grumble and I'll not be beaten either. It is food and it will be eaten!

This week also saw the first gardening club of the year at my daughters' primary school. After 7 weeks of complete neglect the garden was looking surprisingly good and we even have a small pumpkin growing. Anyway, with the apple issue still nagging away in my head I saw an opportunity to educate a handful of children on the importance of eating seasonally and locally. It's not on the national curriculum but it is important and in an after school club I don't have to worry too much about what I'm teaching them.

So I took to school a bagful of fruit and vegetables from my allotment and showed them just what could be grown in Britain at this time of year. A few of them had never tasted plums or beetroot before and some were surprised that cucumber could be grown in your garden. I took in a Union Jack too and Sue provided a bag of British apples with its Union Jack labelling and we talked about seasons, seasonal and food miles. OK, the children are only 6 years old but hopefully they will go home and nag their parents the next time they are in the shops. Let's hope that next time they choose a bag of apples it is because they are attracted to the Union Jack on the label and not the Disney character!

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