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'Skye diet' sustains sea kayakers

26 August 09 03:17 GMT
By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Two sea kayakers have stuck to a local produce-only diet on an expedition to promote sustainable living.

Tom Pendrey and Sam Bonfield also topped up a small car battery using solar energy while they circumnavigated the Isle of Skye.

The former University of Edinburgh students attempted to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum during the trip.

Their "Skye diet" included blueberries, potatoes, fudge and sausages either grown or produced on the island.

Previously, Mr Pendrey paddled the length of the Western Isles in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

On that expedition he used a solar panel to charge electrical equipment and his mobile phone.

He also caught and ate seafood on the way around the isles, but suspected a serving of wild mussels may have made him unwell.

His latest paddle was meant to take place over the course of two weeks, but was cut to eight days by bad weather.

However, the two men succeeded in surviving on local food and drink.

Mr Pendrey said: "We had planned to live off the land, but with no rest days as planned it was hard to find the time to do that.

"We did fish for a bit and Sam caught a mackerel."

Stirling-based Mr Pendrey added: "The whole aim of this was to promote more sustainable lifestyles. Thanks to our sponsors and local food producers we hoped to have done that.

"Skye is also an island where this is possible to do because of the number of local food companies."

He hoped the expedition could form a holiday idea for not only sea kayakers, but mountain bikers and walkers.

The men used a solar panel to keep a 12-volt battery charged. This in turn was used to charge a VHF radio, torches, mobile phones and digital camera.

They also used a wind up radio for checking weather forecasts.

During the 186-mile trip, Mr Pendrey blogged on a website about the expedition.

The website pages are set against a black background as Mr Pendrey had read that this uses 25% less power than a white background.

Harmful gases

The Fife Diet is among the best known "carbon-neutral" uses of food.

Launched in 2007, it aimed to reduce the food coming into the country by air.

It is low in meat, to lower the amount of harmful gases produced by cattle, and involves eating only locally grown fruit and vegetables.

Its creator, Mike Small, said last year that people who were following the plan were contributing to reducing climate change.

Earlier this month, UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said a "radical rethink" of how the UK produced and consumed its food was needed.

He was speaking at the launch of the government's assessment of the threats to the security of what was eaten.

The food supply was currently secure but population growth and climate change could have an impact, he warned.

Producers, supermarkets and consumers were invited to suggest how a secure food system should look in 2030.

Some of the findings from the consultation were expected to be published in the autumn.

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