When you move to a new city, what are some of the first things that you seek to learn about your new home? Maybe, for you, it’s learning about the best local restaurants, or how to navigate the public transport systems, or where the locals go on that rare treasure that is a sunny Saturday afternoon. Well, when I moved to Edinburgh a year ago, the first thing I wanted to do was find a veg bag scheme.
I know it may sound a bit strange having moved to Edinburgh from the US that my first interests would be in local, seasonal produce rather than the more traditional Scottish culinary delights. However, one thing I have learned in my transition to a lifestyle that is more considerate of the broader impacts and implications of my food choices, is that sometimes you’re going to find yourself doing some things that might seem a bit strange.
My search for the best local veg bag scheme lead me not only to a plethora of carrots, potatoes and onions (as well as the occasional “mystery root vegetable” that I have no idea what to do with) but also to a great opportunity to help others have access to more sustainable food choices thanks to a student run food co-op at the University of Edinburgh.
Being a cooperative, all of those involved pitch in to run a food stall on campus twice a week during the university terms. At the food stall we sell veg bags that are sourced from a farm outside of Edinburgh as well as local eggs, artisan breads and whole host of whole-sale, ethically sourced dry-goods like nuts, dried fruits, grains and lentils. All of this is offered to students at-cost since the food stall is run by volunteers and there are no operating costs for using university space. The food co-op not only helps give students access to food they might not otherwise be able to afford on a student budget but is also a great example of the powerful contribution that a group of likeminded people can make to their local community through organized service.
Being a part of the food coop has not only stretched my culinary skills (see afore mentioned mystery root vegetable) but has also given me a way to use my desire to eat healthy food to not only serve myself but to also provide a service to others. So, if you, like me, are looking help you wallet and waistline through being part of a veg-bag scheme look no further than your own community as there are shedloads of them popping up all over the UK this time of year as so many foods begin to come into season.
Your local farmers market is a great place to start your search for a local veg bag scheme and the internet can prove quite helpful as well. Most schemes offer a variety of options as to the quantity of veg you get and depending on what has come into season there is always a fun element of surprise as to what you will get. Some schemes will even deliver to your home, others organize central pick-up locations in the community. Some of the more internet savvy farms even have a website that you can use to place your order or find a recipes for your now beloved mystery root vegetable.
Guest post by Ansley