LOAF meal at AGM

Friends of the Earth Falkirk held a “LOAF” meal as part of our AGM on Saturday 10th September. LOAF stands for Local, Organic, and Fairtrade, and once you try to put together a dish that satisfies those criteria, you realise how tricky it can be. I fell at the first hurdle and sheepishly handed over a packet of organic shortbread from The Engine Shed, a social enterprise cafe and organic bakery in Edinburgh. Ethical and tasty but a bit of a cop-out!The other members of our group outclassed themselves with their delicious and imaginative contributions, which you can see illustrated in the photograph below.

We drank mint tea with mint that Norman had grown in his window box, and ate our (local) rolls with organic spreads he provided.

Corrie made a salad from her own garden and allotment produce; the ingredients list is pure poetry! Good King Henry, red amaranth, salad burnet, rocket, radish, spinach and sorrel, the leaves and flowers from borage and nasturtium, all on a bed of three sorts of lettuce. It looked and tasted gorgeous. She also provided a bramble cake and bramble jam as well as a spicy runner-bean chutney. The brambles were foraged from secret Falkirk locations, but she is willing to reveal that the apples were foraged from trees at the new Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert! The eggs were free range, from Larbert, and the oil was from a Mid-Lothian producer who has a stand at Falkirk Farmers' market. The honey came from Stirling.

Jean brought an absolute feast: salad, green beans, quiche, plum tart, tomatoes and pickled beetroot. The quiche was made using eggs kindly given by Mr and Mrs R Murray of Camelon, and the vegetables were from Jean's own landshare plot. Her salad leaves, herbs, garlic and raspberries were also all home-grown. The flour, oils, vinegar, salt and peppercorns were all Fairtrade. Mr and Mrs Murray also provided plums from their bountiful tree which went into the gorgeous plum-and-marzipan tart, using milk and butter from our nearest Dairy, Graham's at Bridge of Allan. Jean used “Silver Spoon” sugar made from Bristish Sugar Beet. The marzipan was left over from decorating a child's birthday cake.

Gerard and Carole provided a lovely courgette quiche which was made with their home-grown courgettes and some from Fife. They used butter from Graham's, eggs from Angus, herbs from their garden and organic flour which came from England. Carole also provided one of the highlights of the meal, a great big bowl of Cranachan. This was made with double cream from Graham's, honey from Larbert, Perthshire raspberries and oatmeal from Aberdeenshire.

Friends of the Earth envisions a future where eating local food is not an eccentric pursuit; in the meantime we always enjoy our LOAF meals. They are fun but they are also the starting point for useful conversations about the nurturing of local food systems. There are so many benefits, including: food security for all people; fair prices for producers; shorter food chains and
fewer food miles; and increased links between producers and consumers.

During the meal, each contributor spoke about the experience of harvesting, foraging or shopping for their “LOAF” ingredients and we discussed how much of a challenge it had been. Gerard lamented how hard it is to find genuine Scottish flour, and then Corrie regaled us with the story of how she cycled 50 miles to Blair Atholl to buy the flour for her Bramble cake – bona fide Scottish flour, from stone-ground wheat produced in a 16th century water-powered mill! You don't get much more authentic than that. 

Jessica Paterson