Sunday, 10 October 2010

A frog for every season- part 1

Giving the corugette harvest a little knitted boost
Having a garden has made it wonderfully easy to eat seasonally. I don't think I have bought any vegetables since around May - well, other than a couple red peppers here or there, and maybe a few baby tomatoes before ours ripened. Of course, we have had to resign ourselves to eating pretty much nothing but courgettes all summer - with a few beans and swiss chard thrown in here and there. Some people think courgettes are a bit bland, but I find them nicely versatile, and they work wonderfully with a variety of cuisines. Favourites in Frogland this summer have been courgette curry, courgette pasta with anchovies and walnuts, and courgette fritters. Also zucchini bread. (I don't normally mind using the British [ahem, French] word for this vegetable, but it just doesn't sound right for bread - particularly since courgette bread is pretty much unheard of in Britain.)

Food is so incredibly complicated these days. No matter what you eat puts you in some sort of ethical dilemma. We have to watch our food miles, eat seasonally and organically, support local artisans and small farmers in the developing world, as well as avoid meat, fish, hydrogenated vegetable oils, sugar, fats, etc., etc., etc. And then a lot of these turn out to be mutually exclusive. You can't really support developing world farmers and avoid food miles, so you end up feeling guilty a lot of the time; at least I do, because I can't resist buying the occasional Peruvian asparagus. And also just about the only edible and affordable fruit I can find in the UK is grapefruit (I know I SHOULD like apples, but they are just so boring, and I've got to get my 5 fruit and veg in somehow!) So I feel a lot better now that I grow my own - and those food miles I justify by not owning a car.

It turns out that knitting is affected by some of these same seasonal and ethical issues. I'm a very seasonal knitter. I can't bear touching wool in the spring and summer, and then when fall comes around I immediately drop all that linen I was working with over the summer (I make an exception for laceweight - I'll knit wool lace all year round, especially if it is mixed with some silk). Some vegetarians avoid silk because after all it does cause the death of billions of insects. And then there is the British wool movement. Though I don't think this has much to do with fibre miles. It is more of an artisanal movement, and about supporting traditional British industry, which I am all for, but I couldn't possibly give up alpaca. Anyway, I'm more interested in Fair Trade and supporting developing world industries, which fortunately allows me to continue buying Manos del Uruguay.