We are settling in to our new long term temporary home in The UK. One of the big changes and struggles for us is the food. We have not eaten out a lot, as this tends to be expensive. We had gotten into the habit in the US of eating mostly organic fruits and vegetables, predominantly organic food in general, avoiding fast food restaurants, and had been trying to minimize packaged and processed foods. Not to say that we don’t like the not so healthy foods like pizza and hamburgers, but in general we tried to eat more healthy and eat mostly organic and non genetically modified foods.
We have found it a bit of a struggle to find organic produce in the area we live in. There is some available, but not near the varieties or selection that we enjoyed in the states.
The other thing we have noticed with regards to food is that the British seem to love to package things. At the grocery store last night, we bought cucumber, grapes, strawberries, lettuce, bananas, blueberries, onions, and apples, all of which were in some type of packaging. The only produce item we bought that was not packaged was a melon. I am not sure the cause of the packaging obsession, but it does not seem to be localized to one grocery store. We walked into a Marks and Spencer Department Store that had a grocery section a few weeks ago, and the place seemed to be entirely filled with packaged produce, meals, and drinks. The exception to this was the ability to buy bakery items in bulk.
As we have explored, we have slowly been able to find a non sprayed community garden that sells produce weekly and even has a weekly CSA, or veg-box as it is called here. There are farm stores around that we will have to investigate as well. This is a little trickier since we are commuting places by bike with our xtracycles. We are eager for the boxes we shipped from the US, especially the boxes that contain kitchen items, to arrive so that we can get into a more normal cooking and eating routine. At the moment we have one saucepan that we are using to cook, and just recently bought a all iron skillet. Unfortunately, I think all of the boxes we have shipped are still sitting in a warehouse in California, not yet having started the long sea journey to England through the Panama Canal.
A few weekends ago we explored the nearby town of Canterbury. Canterbury is larger than the town we live in, and the richer culture is apparent due to influence of the universities in the town. We enjoyed our day exploring the town, and it likely will be a place we visit often. Right next to the train station when we arrived was a place called The Goods Shed. This somewhat rustic building was filled with people selling meat, bread, organic vegetables, and an assortment of specialty and organic products as well as beer. There were also a few small cafés and restaurants. This was how I envisioned our food experiences to be when coming to the UK, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch at one of the small restaurants. After walking through the town and past the shops. We were heading back towards the train station when we passed a sign for Canterbury Whole Foods. Being cautiously optimistic that we may find actual organic products, we walked down a side street to the store. There we found a miniature version of the Olympia Food Co-op that we frequented in The US. Lots of natural products, many organic, as well as bulk foods. This will definitely be another stop on our trips to Canterbury.
As we left Canterbury Whole Foods, the woman behind the counter recommended that we visit Macknade Fine Foods in Faversham, a town about a forty minute train ride away. There was a promise that Macknade’s was similar to Canterbury Whole Foods, but much larger. We eagerly set out for Faversham last weekend to explore another town and visit Macknade’s. Unfortunately, the store, though nice, did not live up to our expectations. The store was more of a specialty shop rather than a grocery type store, and though there was a good variety of fruit and vegetables, sadly, none were organic or unsprayed.
So our adventure continues.