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Veg out - the importance of a really good vegetable

From: A Balanced View,

Veg out - the importance of a really good vegetable

I have a favourite morning. It’s every first and third Friday of the month. I do the school run and then spend a blissful hour walking around my local farmers market. I love it - whatever the weather, I’m there, because I believe it’s truly the best way to buy food.

Farmers market food is fresh, it's local and it tastes delicious. I now know the stall holders and have a chat with them whilst buying the bream they caught yesterday or the tomatoes picked today and discussing all the things you can do with artichokes (ooh err). Yes you pay a little bit more, but it’s sustainable for the people putting in the extreme hard work.

The food available means we are eating seasonally which is so much better for health. Asparagus doesn’t grow here in February, so it’s not a good idea to eat it. We have lots of beetroot and squashes around, combined with dark leafy greens which means the large amount of folates, iron and beta carotene that’s naturally occurring is what we need through the cold winter.

In my clinic, I’m forever banging on about getting back to basics with food. In general, we rely very heavily on processed, packaged, convenience foods and bread based goods. Most of my 80 year old clients have better health than the 30 year olds I see, because the post war diet was so exceptional. The quick and easy food we eat today alongside coffees, fizzy drinks and take-aways are killing us. By going back to basics with food, we are getting a better nutritional foundation and our bodies thank us for it.

Shopping this way also stops me having to endure supermarkets. They are really noisy, over bright, horrible places. More importantly the food is inferior. For the most part, it has travelled thousands of miles. It's picked when unripe, refrigerated, stored and is tasteless and nutritionally void. The ethics behind supermarkets suck too. Those fabulous 2-4-1 offers don’t come from supermarkets profits. They coerce the farmers into doing the deals and taking the hit and if they don’t tow the line they get dropped and their whole business can go under. Chef Arthur Potts-Dawson brought this to our attention when he launched the People’s Supermarket and started to fight back against the supermarkets' power.

So on the odd weeks my farmers market joy isn’t possible, I get an Abel and Cole organic box delivered. I love it almost as much as the market. On Monday, I spend 10 minutes choosing what I need and on Thursday it’s delivered. Marvellous. I chose Abel and Cole over other schemes as they have an excellent selection, so you can really tailor what you have in your box. They also sell store cupboard essentials - meat, fish, non- dairy, gluten free options and even wine. My latest discovery is that they sell bones for boiling into stock ridiculously cheap, so we make delicious homemade soups and stews and nothing is wasted. The passion they have for food is contagious.

More important than any of that is that our food tastes real again. I’ve noticed how I’m loathed to let anything go to waste. I’ve pounded the pavements on a drizzly day to buy my kale so I won’t let it rot in the bottom of the fridge, I’ve become really imaginative with food again and I’m using new veg I didn’t even know existed. Look out for your local farm shops - local seasonal food is the key here. Try it out and trust me, meal times will become exciting again!

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