1 June 2016: produce on Sesimbra market, Portugal

Sesimbra’s covered market offers a great mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, local breads, groceries and lots of fish straight from the harbour. It’s right in the centre of town. The traders are friendly, the building is  clean and simple, and shopping is a pleasure.

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2 May 2016: new US Urban Agriculture toolkit

You may be interested in USDA’s new Urban Agriculture toolkit – just released. You can read more and download the toolkit here: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/knowyourfarmer?navid=kyf-urban-agric


21 August 2015 – Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink: Food Charter for Events

Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015,  a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland and Scotland Food & Drink, aims to promote the country’s ‘natural larder’ and its quality produce to visitors from home and abroad. For example, this  included the inaugural Edinburgh Food Festival (10-12 August) but what is particularly noteworthy is The Food Charter for Events. This involves organisers signing up to:

1. Provide food that offers value for money
2. Build relationships and work with Scottish producers and suppliers to support the local economy
3. Ensure food providers have a food offering that makes the most of the produce in season using fresh, local, sustainable and nutritionally-balanced produce and highlighting healthy options where available
4. Ensure food providers describe the provenance of food on menus and in marketing materials, highlighting healthy options where available
5. Ensure food providers highlight regional specialities and traditional Scottish dishes, so that visitors to events know they are enjoying a uniquely Scottish experience
6. Ensure providers use food that is sourced from sustainable stocks
7. Ensure food provided meets European Union legal standards for food hygiene and food standards and strive for excellence by implementing standards such as the Eat Safe Award
8. Aim for zero waste by recycling food waste and packaging.
There is also a range of additional resources available and a set of Benchmark Standards. It’s worth a look.

25 March 2015 – the indecisive chicken

The Dharavi Food Project is part of the Dharavi Biennale – a two-year process that blends art and science to share information on urban health and to showcase the contribution of the people of Dharavi to Mumbai’s economic and cultural life. Prajna Desai’s new book, ‘The Indecisive Chicken: Stories and Recipes from Eight Dharavi Women’ is a great outcome of some of the work, funded by the Wellcome Trust and organized by SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action), an NGO working to improve the health of women and children in Mumbai’s informal settlements. The co-director is UCL Professor Dave Osrin.

The book’s title comes from the author recalling how ‘one attendee claimed not to eat chicken because she thought it to be an indecisive bird. Eating it was bound to make her stupid, she said. When prodded, she confessed that it was taste of chicken she didn’t like.’ She says the book ‘certainly celebrates the women who headline the food project. But it also explores what cooking means beyond making a meal’.

It looks a very tempting book for lots of reasons – you can read more here


23 March 2015 – ageing, food shopping and the benefits of sociality

A recent article by Anne Karpf (UK Guardian 15 March) and a new book by Susan Pinker called ‘The Village Effect’ (Atlantic Books) look at how being social can affect longevity. These are interesting reflections; Susan Pinker – a developmental psychologist –argues that face-to-face contact, not virtual contact such as Facebook, Twitter etc., is what increases longevity and reduces the risks of illness; for her, the loss of physical, personal contact in the internet age, is shortening lives whereas the benefits of close-knit communities extend it.

Anne Karpf – a writer and sociologist – touches on related issues when she writes about how cities can be inhospitable places for people as they age. She suggests that increasingly only the more affluent venture in to city centres to go to theatres, museums, concerts etc. in what has become a form of ‘spatial injustice’. This makes ageing ‘a problem’, with older people ‘confined’ to their homes which can lead to a deterioration in their physical and mental health. Although these are problems that can be experienced by anyone, her article recognises the benefits of  ‘age-friendly changes’ in our local communities, where negotiating everyday activities such as shopping, gardening and even sitting in public is thought about and made easier for older people; she stresses the importance of ‘third spaces’, where the boundaries between public and private spaces are blurred, allowing people to rest and chat.

For me, both writers are exploring issues that have resonance for food shopping and sociality (a regular topic on this blog) as we contemplate the effects of internet shopping and the loss of local shops and markets on not only older shoppers but many other marginalised groups.

You can read Anne Karpf’s article here and read more about Susan Pinker’s book, The Village Effect here and a review here


21 March 2015 – Farmers’ and fair trading market combine

My trip also took me to Bristol and this morning I saw the Whiteladies Road Farmers’ and Fair Trading market that operates twice a month as part of Sustainable Redland. It’s an interesting combination mixing the local with traceable exotic produce in a busy and long-standing community market.

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20 March 2015 – Abergavenny market

IMG_0035I just visited Abergavenny market in Wales – an indoor market with a really welcoming feel and some great Welsh produce.  Stunning flying pigs and garlands of painted vegetables add a touch of the unexpected!