Page last updated at 06:32 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 07:32 UK

Day seven: 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".

Moffat toffee
Moffat toffee has been a sweet treat during Giancarlo's week
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.


The finish line approaches and it is lined with pasta, rice, espresso and borlotti beans.

I feel like Dorando Pietri at the end of the marathon in the London Olympics of 1908.

I have stumbled, fallen, got back up again and made it to the end thanks to a bit of a shove from a few kindly bystanders.

My medal has been, quite rightly, withheld.

Dorando Pietri in the London marathon
Giancarlo stumbles across the finish line of his food marathon

I admit to mixed feelings about my seven days of living on Dumfries and Galloway produce.

A bit like a cartoon character, I have a little food devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other.

The divine figure tells me I have done a good thing and should try to live my life this way in future.

"Eat local and give your trade to local businesses - and the food tastes much better," he says.

But the little demon will have none of it.

"Don't be daft," he responds.

"Remember how hard it used to be to get Italian food in the UK when your grandparents first arrived, now you can get it in every supermarket.

"It's called progress."

Call me indecisive, but I think they might both be right.

It would be nice to buy more local produce, use local shops and encourage small business.

Why don't the supermarkets have a few shelves turned over to produce from the region they are in?

However, it is also pleasant to have a world of food to choose from within a five-minute walk of your home.

Surely, there must be a balance to be struck.

The problems with "buying local" are the difficulty in finding produce, the lack of certain ingredients and the price.

My week-long experiment cost me about 70.

On the other hand, supermarket shopping lacks a personal touch, the produce is less appetising and you are doing little to support the local economy.

The answer might be a simple one.

Why don't the supermarkets have a few shelves turned over to produce from the region they are in?

After all, they can manage it for Polish, Italian, Indian and Chinese foodstuffs.

Control experiment

That way people would have the convenience and choice they crave.

I don't know if my seven days will change the way I eat but it has made me think a lot more about where my food comes from.

And it has put me in the mood for another challenge.

Call it a control experiment if you will.

I hereby volunteer to conduct the same test in Tuscany to see how difficult it would be to live on local produce in Italy and contrast the experience with Scotland.

So, how about it boss?


As you read this, chances are I'll have gratefully downed my first cup of tea in a week.

I never really found a substitute, despite trying the odd herb.

On convenience grounds, I've resorted to plain hot water (no change there, my workmates tell me).

Apart from tea, I can honestly say I haven't missed much.

Celebrated my final day by scoffing the last of my bacon, with eggs, for breakfast.

The food police - my son - had some too.

All week he's been intoning, "Is it from the Borders?" every time I've put a plate in front of him. And at mass on Sunday, as the priest raised the host ... the little dear.

The poor vegetarian husband, meanwhile, has largely had to fend for himself, while we've been feasting royally.

Angela's main difficulty proved to be giving up on her tea

Today's lunch: Hardiesmill pastrami, intended to be eaten with a roll from the baker.

However, the Selkirk Deli's homemade black pudding and bacon quiche seemed too good to pass up - and it was! - with a wee cherry and coconut slice from Camerons for afters.

My colleague, Sandy, hearing of my relatively fruitless week, has just presented me with both gooseberries and raspberries from his garden; bless you, sir!

For my evening meal to make up for my higher than usual meat consumption, I'm getting creative: a Whitmuir fennel and Standhill Fatlips Castle blue cheese potato cake, possibly with home made oven chips, and runner beans. Or beetroot.

And I'll toast my success in completing our challenge with Ayton's Peelwalls cider.

Over the week my diet has been entirely meat-based - but mostly good old-fashioned home cooking.

Strangely, I've had no cravings for chocolate, or pasta. Just tea.

Money wise, my weekly shop didn't cost much more.

I still have items like oil, butter, garlic, oatmeal, and cheese (the most expensive thing, strangely) in the cupboard.

Nothing has been wasted.

And, as I've already said, there was no temptation to chuck CDs, books etc in the trolley.

But I've been amazed so many people got in touch.

Immensely kind

The latest e-mails are from Italy, Canada, Finland, and New York - as well as the Great Teri Diaspora: a Hawick exile in England.

(George, your words about Standhill cheeses, and Lindsay Grieve the Butcher are, as they say, pushing against an open door).

All have been immensely kind and helpful - with tips ranging from "buy Denholm steak pies", to tea substitutes; from where to find wild fruit and leaves, to recipes for making my own pasta (all assure me it's so easy, I promise I WILL try it, soon).

Many suggestions I haven't got round to - yet. But thank you for them all.

It's been a fantastic week. While I will be back on tea and prosecco by the weekend, I won't be going back to my old shopping habits.

And next time I'm in darkest Peeblesshire, Roxburghshire, Berwickshire or Selkirkshire - I'll be taking my list of farm shops with me.

Day six: living on local foods
15 Sep 08 |  South of Scotland
Day five: living on local foods
15 Sep 08 |  South of Scotland
Day four: living on local foods
14 Sep 08 |  South of Scotland
Day three: living on local foods
13 Sep 08 |  South of Scotland
Day two: living on local foods
12 Sep 08 |  South of Scotland
Day one: living on local foods
10 Sep 08 |  South of Scotland
Just how good is local food?
09 Sep 08 |  South of Scotland

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