Saturday, 15 May 2010

food, glorious food

the bandstand

in the shadow of the war memorial

operation pea harvest

After my last day at work on Tuesday I was feeling a little glum, walking home, and found myself in the park by the museum.

This isn't unusual, I walk through this park most days on the way to work, or to the university, or town, and it really is beautiful. They run quite a lot of events in this park too.

But on Tuesday, I found myself wandering into the museum. I've probably mentioned this museum before, it's ever such fun. My eldest nephew loved it when he visited, and is now convinced I live there. Not quite, but it's a close thing sometimes.

There's a new exhibition I hadn't visited yet, all about food - how we grow it, prepare it and eat it. One of the things I love about this museum is its kid friendliness, there's plenty of dressing up, poking and prodding to be done, and even if you go in without kids, nobody minds if you pick things up and have a play.

But this week, I found myself drawn to the sofa, where they were showing a series of old short films about food production. The one above shows part of Operation Pea Harvest, a 1968 film about frozen peas. There was a film about a spaghetti eating race, a mobile fish and chip shop, and people taste testing dehydrated foods. A nicely varied mix!

Three of the films struck a bit of a chord (I should point out these films were all about 2 minutes long, lest the rumours of me actually living in the museum become more widespread). The 1966 Children's Farm showed city children being taken for holidays on farms, feeding cows, and learning that, much to their astonishment, 'hens lay eggs!' There's much talk these days of doing similar things, and it was interesting to find out that not knowing where food comes from isn't that new an idea.

The second film showed the Women's Land Army. Now, I don't know much, but I've been reading about this recently, and it seems being in the Women's Land Army wasn't quite as cheery and exciting as it was made out to be in this little film. I was rather bemused by the narrator telling us 'they know how to keep chickens, even if they can't keep secrets!' - were the women well known for not being able to keep secrets??

The third film was from 1939, and showed the food minister speaking about rationing. It was fascinating to see how very differently he came across to politicians of today - "I am very sure that all of you will buy your fair share and no more..."

I generally think about food quite a lot, but a few things have conspired recently to make me think more about where my food is coming from. I'm trying to grow more of it, our garden's small, but I'm doing what I can. Might there be another allotment in my future?? Possibly, although certainly not just yet.

But I'm leaning more and more towards supporting local food growing and growers. I'm slowly finding my way round the farmers' markets here, sussing out who's who and what's available when. I'm planning to join in with the abundance project this year too, harvesting fruit for redistribution to community projects.

The more I look, the more is going on. And the more sensible it seems to eat as much as possible from as close to home as possible, even if it means making a few changes, embracing cabbage, and waiting for English strawberries...

What local food projects are going on where you live?

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