Sustainable food

The UK relays on three main foods; wheat, potatoes and rice. Since reading this in Permaculture in a Nutshell I have noticed how true this is, the main staple of most of our meals is one of these, and often a meal includes more than one of these three.

The way that wheat is grown takes a lot of oil; so does the way that potatoes are grown commercially in this country. Rice growing requires a lot of water and land is often flooded to produce rice. When I was in Kenya we visited a wetland that had been reduced to make way for rice paddy fields. Rice is the main food staple for half the world population and although I haven’t found any figures on it, I would imagine that wheat makes up a great deal of the stamp diets of the other half as I did find out that wheat now covers more of the land than any other kind of plant, so a guess that half of the world relay on it as a food staple doesn’t sound so out landish.

Relaying so heavily on so few foods is clearly very dangerous, just imagine what the results of a mass failure of rice one year would cause? Or what the Irish potato famine was like, but then scale that up for half of the world’s population. There are of course other factors that could cause a crop failure, e.g. weather or pollination failure.

And then there are the resources these foods take to grow and the impact that monocropping has on wildlife and soil fertility. I have yet to meet or read about any smallholder, veggie grower or allotmenteer who just grows one crop to get them through the year. Instead I would case it has one of the many pleasures of growing or producing your own food is that you get to try different things, some might not do so well in your area, so you try another, or you might not favour the taste / size / shape / colour of a variety, so you try another. 

It is will all this in mind that I have decided to give up wheat (as a staple) for lent. Why wheat not rice or potatoes? I eat a lot more wheat than rice, and potatoes, well, I like them too much to give them up right now. I am not going to give up wheat completely either, just were it is a main ingredient. When I started to look at what I wasn’t going to be able to eat if I gave it up completely, there was very little left I could eat without buying specialised food, and that really isn’t the point of giving up wheat.

My aim for giving up wheat as a staple is to make myself less dependant on it as a food sources, after all I can’t grow it. Lent starts on Wednesday so if you know of any nice food that doesn’t included wheat please let me know.

4 responses to “Sustainable food

  1. Good luck with giving up wheat, keep an eye open for gluten free foods!
    I was really surprised how much of these staples we eat in a winter month! In a normal month I order 30Kg of flour!! 5Kg Rice, a lot less potatoes this time of yr, maybe only 1Kg a week, but from May-December when we have our own, we eat far more.

  2. Great challenge! I look forward to seeing how you get on. I haven’t eaten wheat for about 8 years, so it can be done, just like anything else.
    Ok, so I rely heavily on potatoes and rice instead which I should look more in to. I eat a lot of oats too.

    I guess the ‘cave man’ diet is easiest and gentler on the planet – meat, fish and whatever seasonal veg, fruit and nuts you can get. But as a veggie that’s hard for me. nice ideal though 😉

    Good luck with the challenge.

  3. I think it all comes down to buying food locally and supporting diverse farms, planning meals, and cooking from scratch as much as possible.

    I haven’t really thought about giving anything up for Lent. I used to eat far too much cheese, and I’ve cut back on that now, so not sure what to do.

    Thankfully, I won’t be doing long commutes soon, so in a way I’m cutting down on petrol for Lent! But maybe I’ll try and go the whole hog.

    I was told a few years ago that I’m intolerant to wheat, so for a while cut out anything with gluten in it. I had no idea until then how many food products included gluten in their ingredients lists… but my diet has changed since then, I’m much more proactive about cooking from scratch and cutting out the crap!

  4. Good luck. Do let us know how you get on.

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