My live local challenge: week 1

For the duration of October I have decided to embark on a live local challenge, only consuming food sourced/produced within 31 miles, that’s one mile a day. I am hoping that this experience will be informative and character-building. At the very least I am hoping it will be more successful than my last food challenge which involved ASDA value canned potatoes and did not end well (for me or the carpet, or the spectators).

You can follow my efforts to survive and thrive without the aid of the global food supply chain by subscribing to the blog (mind the plug).

The content of my store cupboard on day one. Hopefully enough to get me through the week.

The Rationale

Why am I doing this? Good question… *hastily comes up with the following*

  1. To reduce food miles and packaging waste
  2. To celebrate local produce and traditional food production techniques
  3. To play up to my eccentric reputation
  4. To determine once and for all if I would survive the zombie apocalypse
  5. I thought it would be interesting to blog about and I’m shamelessly always on the hunt for new content.

Right enough of this self-justification, let’s talk about the important stuff, the food.

Local roast vegetables
My first meal of the month. Yes it’s basically just vegetables.


My living local challenge began at 1 am last Sunday. The guests I’d invited to celebrate my last night of food freedom were now tucked up in bed and snoring. I was not in bed. I was stood amongst the debris of picked candle wax and empty wine bottles, feeding my bread. Or to be more accurate feeding my sourdough starter, Boris.

This pulsating mass of fermenting flour has become like a precious child to me. I lovingly tend to him everyday, feeding him when he is hungry, wrapping him up warm when the temperature drops and singing to him to sleep at night…wait what? Boris is getting stronger and will soon reach maturity, providing me with a source of much needed carbs.

3 day old sourdough starter
Boris, what a cutie!

Ingredient sources:

Wessex mill wholemeal, white bread, and rye flour purchased at Natural Bread Oxford


At the end of September I put the following request on helpfulpeeps:

‘I need a large Tupperware of clear sea water for a food project. I can offer a bottle of elderberry gin in return’

– One of those nutters you get online (Me)

Ever since this post  strangers have been sporadically appearing on my doorstep brandishing vats of seawater and demanding gin*. I think my housemates are concerned that an aggressive temperance movement is menacing our neighborhood.

After boiling off the excess water I was able to produce a respectable quantity of sea salt for my store cupboard.

The first dish I seasoned with my new salt. Now my food tastes bearable!

BTW if anyone is planning a coastal trip the gin exchange is still open, you can even select your preferred tipple from my vast alcohol collection. I hasten to add here that the offer is limited to seawater only. If you turn up at my house with sand pebbles or driftwood gin will not be forthcoming.

Ingredient sources:

Seawater from the coasts of Devon, Sussex lovingly collected by Fred W, Tom B, Helena W and Maya E. In all seriousness a massive thanks to you guys!


‘[Butter], the most delicate of food among barbarous nations’

-Obligatory Pliny quote

Unless I wanted to be living off boiled vegetables and misery for the next month it was essential that I create some sort of cooking fat. I settled on butter because despite the march of global warming olives are not yet abundant in Oxfordshire.



You are supposed to shape butter with a dedicated set of paddles and mark it with a butter stamp. I settled for using two salad spoons  and a wax seal because my hoard of kitchen equipment is currently lacking an archaic dairy section.

Ingredient sources:

North Aston dairy cream purchased at East Oxford Farmers Market and salt from the Atlantic (see above)

This week’s biggest challenge

On Wednesday and Thursday I attended a proofreading course at which an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet was cruelly provided.  My course-mates tucked into steaming pots creamy risotto and platters of churros dipped in silky chocolate sauce whilst I unclipped my be-tupperwared salad with quiet melancholy. Resisting those churros was the hardest thing that I have ever done.

*Of course none of my gracious seawater suppliers actually demanded gin, that would be terribly un-British. All liquor was freely given.

Proceed to week 2 (it’s riveting stuff)

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