• bread from the local bakery in Stockbridge •

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;”
 (Psalm 24:1)

I am a member of Powertalk Stirling and last week’s theme for our meeting was Challenge. What follows here is the speech I delivered.  It’s amazing how our Church Eco Lent challenge spreads into all my activities at the moment.

“An Eco challenge for you too?”

What an appropriate theme for me at this time. Why, you might ask? There are always challenges in life. Yes, but my church decided this year to run an Eco Lent. So, what does that entail?

The congregation were given a choice of 5 challenges – Eat locally, Avoid single use plastics, Buy nothing new, Reduce energy consumption by 10%, Eat no meat.  I was put in a spot when asked which challenge I would like to lead and I said Shop Local. Then I discovered it was Eat Locally.

However, to my mind you cannot eat locally if you do not shop locally too, so that was my starting point. I am lucky living in this area of town as we have still got a local fish shop and butchers in Stockbridge. We also have the Sunday market and there we usually have fruit and veg and also butchers from the Borders – not too far away. The challenge defines “local” as within 30 miles of where you live, so that is what I am planning.  I already know and have used farm shops, one in the south side and 2 others to the west of the city.

And yesterday I received my second delivery of vegetables from an organic company in East Lothian. You cannot, I discovered, only think of that one challenge you have chosen without touching on the other challenges.  My box of vegetables is of course totally loose in the box – does that not remind you of when we were growing up and you or your mother went to all the individual shops – butcher, baker, greengrocer, fish merchant and grocer – I don’t remember Mum ever going to a candlestickmaker…

So here is something for you to consider – how do you shop, do you look at all that packaging in supermarkets and sigh, knowing most of that will have to go to landfill?  Perhaps you look for loose vegetables and paper bags?  But do you also look to see where the items have come from?  I was horrified to find that my beetroot from the supermarket came from Spain.  Why not beetroot from Scotland, or at least England, stored over winter?

And have you access to one of those Eco Larder places where you bring along your container and fill it there?  We have one along in Stockbridge but I have not yet remembered to carry containers when out and about – shopping bags yes, but containers no.

Another aspect I am trying to take on board is to walk, bus or cycle more to get my shopping.  I do appreciate that if you live miles from shops and bus routes, this is not an option. This perhaps will mean more frequent shopping for me, carrying 2 bags so that I am balanced while walking and carrying a rucksack when I am on my bike.

Now, what am I trying to persuade you to do?  Change completely how you shop?  No, no, no. What I hope I have done is persuaded you to think before you head out to the large supermarket several miles away and buy all the usual items, including all these special offers like 2 for the price of 1 even though you don’t really need that yet!  Think – Could I have bought some of these items locally? Can I buy British apples and potatoes? Right now, they are in the shops, you just need to look before picking up whatever comes to hand. Can I buy loose vegetables too?  When I started this challenge I ended up walking out of a local supermarket empty-handed because apart from bananas every other fruit and veg was encased in single plastic.  I then returned to another shop – I admit I am lucky to have several close to me – and selected 4 potatoes (British), 2 carrots, 1 courgette, 1 turnip, 3 onions, 1 pepper and 4 apples (British).  Of course I had to then weigh each item and look up the price at checkout, but my goodness I felt good!

My challenge is not yet over.  However, what I am learning is that I am now much more aware of my local shops and where their supplies come from, as well as considering the other challenges.

Why don’t you consider joining me in taking this challenge?”

I hope those who are taking up the Eat Locally challenge are doing well.  Anyone else tempted?            

[from Diana P]

Recent Posts