Our monthly ‘First Tuesday’ meeting on 7th June met at Mushkil Aasaan – with many thanks for the use of the hall.
Belinda, Tim & Charles used games and discussion to explore some of the interrelated features of the food we buy and grow – its nutritional value, its availability locally-grown, its ‘carbon footprint’, its degree of government subsidy or supermarket ‘shelf shout’, and food’s relationship with our own wellbeing.
We shared some favourite seasonal recipes, local picnic locations, and ideas for outdoor cooking and eating. We looked at packaging and waste – and linked this to composting, and to the satisfaction of growing our own food.
 Some of our discussions in more detail:
Ø  Where is some of our favourite fruit grown, how does it reach our shops – and how to do we do the last step of getting fruit to our kitchens – for example by foot, or bike, or car? Which of those can we control ourselves?
Ø  Which fruit would become scarce or very expensive in the case of the end of cheap oil, and which fruit would still be readily available at which times of year – whether grown locally, or in the UK, or further afield?
Ø  What would the end of cheap oil do to our eating habits?
Ø  Taking a ‘shopping basket’ of 12 food items such as chicken nuggets from Thailand, home-grown apples or Irish mature cheddar, we looked at the carbon footprint of each food’s production, processing, packaging, and distribution.
Ø  This is a complex topic – we used a game from the ‘Carbon Conversations’ course and tried ranking these 12 foods, from lower to higher carbon footprint.
Ø  As consumers, we realised we probably don’t know enough about the complex relationships between different foods and different processes! 
Ø  Sharing seasonal recipes took us from English asparagus to strawberries and cream. Some of us who thought ‘there’s nowhere to picnic in Tooting’ were shown others’ drawings of good locations.
Ø  We looked at the positive aspects of appropriate food packaging (yes there are some!), and at the drawbacks of seeing packaging, or food waste, as part of a linear process that ends with dumping in landfill.
Ø  We explored taking a cyclical holistic approach, where ‘waste’ becomes valued – whether at the community or the household level.
Ø  Waste took us into household composting and a reminder of our Tooting Community Garden as a local way forward to get involved with local food growing (we will focus on the Garden in our next TTT ‘First Tuesday’ on July 5th).
Ø  We heard about two other community initiatives –
o  Balham Country Market, to be held on Fridays from 2-4pm at Balham Baptist Church in Ramsden Rd, for members to sell home produced items directly to the public. Email balham.country.markets@gmail.com for more info.
o   Jack Astbury is starting a local project in a hidden-away corner of Tooting: ‘an inner city space to create an organic small holding that grows food for a local community who in turn supports it through buying.’ It is early days, and we’ll keep in touch. Jack’s website is www.home-growers.co.uk
Ø  Finally, we shared ideas for involving local experience in Tooting to support local wellbeing through seasonal food – for example having a swapping site online for gardeners with spare produce, or sharing skills for some of the useful jobs like building a compost box, or having an outdoor cooking skills plus picnic event.