Page last updated at 20:42 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 21:42 UK

Day one: living on local foods

Much has been made in recent times of the quality of food produced in Scotland and the need to cut down on "food miles".

Dumfries and Galloway fruit
Fruit proved to be in plentiful supply in Dumfries and Galloway

BBC reporters Angela Soave in the Scottish Borders and Giancarlo Rinaldi in Dumfries and Galloway have decided to set themselves a related test.

Over the space of a week they are trying to survive on only food produced from their respective regions.

Below are their reports on how they have fared so far.


I struck it lucky on the countdown to day one.

My friend insists she could eat entirely from the Lyne Valley (darkest Peeblesshire), never mind the Borders - and I'm not sure she's wrong.

She took me to Whitmuir Organic Farm at Lamancha.

They grow a lot of their own fruit and veg - including courgettes, tomatoes and, yes, even garlic - so I won't have to forsake my Mediterranean diet entirely.

And they breed and butcher their own meat: lamb, beef, poultry. Pigs, too, which, if you peep into their shed, look not unlike Labradors.

I didn't see the two sows roaming round the wood up the hill - although I found out they're named Hillary and Annabel, after Ms Clinton and Ms Goldie respectively.

(I'm saying nothing. There's a cow named after Alex Salmond too, born 1 May 2007).

Angela Soave at the shops
Angela managed to stock up with provisions ahead of day one
The beef is hung for four weeks, the veg freshly dug or picked.

They have a shopful of other produce from neighbouring areas such as Dumfries and Galloway cheese, East Lothian bread and Lanarkshire milk and cheese.

And they're in the top five Local Food Heroes, according to UK TV Food

Ah, but all this must come at a premium, no?

Well, according to owner Heather Anderson, their prices compare with those of the supermarkets.

But their beef is left to hang and dehydrate (by about 20%, she reckons); the produce isn't pumped with any water, and doesn't have chemicals such as nitrates.

Actually, it doesn't seem too pricey. I spent just over 30, on a stack of organic fruit and veg, eggs, lamb, and bacon.

And there were no dodgy CDs, mags or paperbacks to tempt me en route.

There are other organic farm shops in the Borders, which, having seen Whitmuir, I'll definitely be checking out in the future.

They're all listed on the excellent Borders Food Network website:

On the way home I bought bread and toffee muffins from Forsyth's Bakers in Peebles, one of which I'm scoffing as I write; not exactly suffering for my art.

So today, my first local breakfast consisted of toast and Whitmuir strawberry jam.

My lunch is a bacon sandwich; my tea lamb gigot chop, salad leaves, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, accompanied by new potatoes.

Now, normally cucumbers are a vegetable I hate.

The modern habit of ladling it into salads and garnishes is frankly lamentable.

I spend too much time picking it out of the green stuff I quite like.

But Whitmuir's is different; it's not rock hard, it's slightly knobbly, green-yellow - with a consistency and taste not unlike melon. After tasting it, I bought two.

Fantastic responses

My main difficulty today is the lack of tea. I am gasping for a cup of the stuff.

Given no viable alternative yet, I'm drinking milk or tap water. But - success! - I think I can find local porridge oats in Kelso (she said hopefully!).

So far, I've had some fantastic responses.

Thanks for the advice and support - from the Borders, as well as Lewis, Aberdeen, England, Wales and even Australia!

The idea of wild food is a great one; I may well try making my own pasta if I can find local flour; and I will definitely try the pies in Denholm!

If there's anything else you think I should try, or include, please get in touch.

You can email Angela at or by clicking here.


It was after about 12 hours that the hallucinations started.

It looked so real, so mouth-watering, so caffeine-packed.

Is this a cappuccino I see before me?

The coffee break has been hard and the breakfast of a local baker's bread, Galloway butter and a glass of Lockerbie milk seemed meagre.

I usually have a big bowl of porridge with fruit on the top as well as my toast.

No Scottish-Italian ever went to war on an empty stomach.

Come to think of it, most of us never went to war at all.

So far coffee growers near Dumfries have been hard to find
Still, it will come as no surprise to those who know me that I did not let a little adversity get between myself and a good meal.

My first port of call was Ecclefechan Post Office.

It might not spring to many minds as the natural place to go looking for local food but it had my equivalent of the Holy Grail in this week long experiment - wine.

Two bottles of birch and gooseberry vino, courtesy of the Glebe House Winery, are now ensconced in my fridge.

A kind phone-call did much of the rest of my work.

Maryfield Garden Nursery near Dumfries offered me all kinds of fruit - including two particularly mouth-watering punnets of blueberries.

Later I snapped up some Moffat mustard, Drummuir ice-cream, a local lamb chop and, get this, some Loch Arthur ricotta cheese.

Maybe life is not so bad eating locally after all.

Even my wife sounded vaguely pleased at the possibility of trying out some Dumfriesshire farmed pork fillet.

Now, just find me the Dumfries and Galloway coffee, garlic and pasta producers and my life will be complete.

Giancarlo is on the lookout for suggestions of Dumfries and Galloway produce and where to get it. Contact him at or click here.

Just how good is local food?
09 Sep 08 |  South of Scotland

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