Food Challenge a Tasty Experience for All!
14 July 2011
Phew! What a busy month it has been (and it’s only the 14th!). The Sheffield Food Festival was a fantastic success and my Sheffield Food Week Challenge went amazingly well – I certainly enjoyed a whole week of food loving in the city centre and at home. Thank you so much to everyone who was involved and thank you Sheffield for feeding Cindy/Missie! The Challenge made Wednesday’s Food & Drink section in the Sheffield Star newspaper – an article I’m really proud of as I wrote the piece myself and if I’m honest with you, after reading the piece in print, I was actually a little choked by my own written words – I was sad the challenge was over. I had such a tasteful week of experiences.
I’m not sure if you can read the article (as pictured above) and I will certainly do my best to badger The Sheffield Star to have the article put up online for you to read and share with others.
The journey to Eat Sheffield Food for a week came about from a visit to the Sheffield Farmers’ Markets, where I was amazed by the sheer amount of wholesome Sheffield produce available and saw how food was able to bring communities together.
It took months of research of local food producers and growers – I started visiting my local farmer’s markets more than just once or twice a month. I started developing relationships between farmers and other local eaters, I realised that this is more than just eating local (Sheffield) to prove I can do it. I did have to extend my research to Yorkshire for some items but eventually I was able to draw up a full menu of meals. I wanted to let people know about the fab food range and producers we have on our doorstep.
The 7 days of eating my way to a size Sheffield is officially over and I couldn’t be happier with my results or the things I learned. I must say I had a great week and learned so much about Sheffield food and what delights I can create with just a little imagination and time! I even went wild foraging for the first time ever in Wyming Brook (Tuesday) with PJ taste – I must’ve been pretty hard up to forage right? wrong. It’s good fun and I learnt a lot about nature, picking wild food meant that I got to eat local, fresh, seasonal food, and the exercise taught me about spending more time outdoors (which is definitely something I don’t get to do enough of). Plus, free food is great!
A couple of the challenges I encountered were things like, I work full-time so have an ‘On the Go’ attitude – convenience plays a really important factor in my purchasing decisions. It’s no secret that, produce, baked goods, meats, etc. from local farmers markets or artisan producers can be more expensive than running to the nearest supermarket chain, especially due to the low costs of processed foods which are highly subsidised. I follow a strict budget, and although a lot of the foods consumed in the Food Challenge were generously donated I would find it extremely challenging going to the local market and butchers and get anything I wanted, which made experimenting with different foods very difficult.
The best part of the Challenge was learning the art of ‘real’ cooking at home. The week saw me getting to grips with ‘real’ ingredients such as using free-range chicken breasts, slicing up raw beef, cooking and eating fresh gooseberries (something I’d never tried before), using fresh chervil, parsley and chives for extra flavour to dishes and think of new fun ways I could eat my grass-fed beef or prepare my free-range chicken. It’s all meant I’ve truly had to get my fingers into fresh produce and to make time for it this.
I realised the challenge was harder than I thought. Sure, I ate plenty of potatoes, salad, chicken and local beef every day but I was really hungry for variety! – give me pasta, couscous, rice, mixed peppers, sweetcorn and plenty of fresh fruit and veg. By Friday night I almost felt like a spud. No joke!
A big thank you to the amazing Sheffield Food producers and Twitter followers who participated in my food week challenge, each day you were helpful, offering recipes and ideas to spice up even the most generic ingredients – potatoes! Through this all, though, I’ve learned the importance of eating locally and have met some wonderful people – who now I’d call friends, I’ve learned that buying and eating locally isn’t something that everyone can do, but something everyone should try at least once. Not only will you learn a lot about your own food tastes, but you’ll learn your limits and that you can push past your frustrations to help something and someone greater than you. It was indeed a very tasty experience!
Make sure you look out for my food week photos on my Facebook page, I’m hoping to have these up by Sunday. Thank you so much for all your support :) and I’m looking forward to curating more tasteful food adventures & stories to share…keep those forks on standby – Cindy/Missie x