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Eat for Devon: local food challenge

The Transition Movement aims to prepare communities for a time when oil supplies may run out. Our current lifestyle – driving to supermarkets to buy food grown 100s or even 1000s of miles away will not be sustainable. This is an experiment to see if we can eat locally for a week starting on Saturday 21st August, and gives us a wonderful opportunity to support our local food suppliers and celebrate local food in all its forms.

1) What does eating local food mean to you?

You could try

  • Not driving to an out-of-town supermarket – buy from local shops or farmers’ markets and use your local supermarket e.g. the Co-op
  • Growing something to eat – even a windowsill could be used to grow lettuces or herbs
  • Organising a ‘food swap’ with friends and neighbours – swap your lettuces for potatoes, eggs, honey… Do you know anyone who keep hens or bees or who has an allotment and might join in?
  • Foraging for wild foods e.g. blackberries

2) How local is local?

Are you able to find out where your food was grown / produced? Some local shops will be very happy to discuss this with you.

Did you manage to find food grown / produced in:

  • Devon
  • The South West
  • England
  • UK

3) Did you have any problems with this challenge?

These could include:

  • Cost
  • Difficulties sourcing or giving up specific items e.g.
    • Particular dietary needs
    • Tea, coffee
    • Rice, pasta
    • Flour

4) What can we each do next as Transition group members, to increase local resilience?

Thank you for joining us in this experiment!

You can also download a copy of the Eat for Devon poster. Perhaps you could display one in your window?

Eat for Devon poster


  1. Aki says:

    It is very interesting to see how much of Devon food can be sourced for our diet.

    I am interested to see what will be on breakfast and if people can have any bread made from wheat grown in Devon, potatoes grown in Devon?

    • Helen Wharam says:

      I think breakfast might prove tricky! I asked two healthfood shops – both use the same supplier, Morning Foods based in Crewe. I emailed Morning Foods outlining our challenge and got the following reply:

      Dear Helen,
      Thank you for your enquiry. Our oats are contract grown in the UK and, yes, some do come from Devon and Cornwall.
      Kind regards,
      Julie McKenna
      Morning Foods Limited, North Western Mills, Crewe, Cheshire, CW2 6HP

  2. MRS G RAISEY says:

    I do myself try to buy local produce as much as posssible supporting our local farmers and veg growers .
    I get great pleasure in going to our local market in Newton Abbot and getting fresh veg and fruit.
    Saturday just gone I brought lovely fresh local swedes,Devon fresh potatoes, English local fresh strawberries and local devon grown carrots.

  3. jane baker, transition newton abbot says:

    Brilliant Challenge, thanks for setting it!
    Luckily its when the garden produce is at its best so it makes it a bit easier.
    Drinks, well so far I’ve thought of water, lemon verbena tea and mint tea from the garden.
    Anyone know where you can get Teignbridge grass-fed milk?
    The cats will be have to be fed from the butchers. I did ask them (Queen Street butchers, Newton Abbot) if they have local rabbit, and they’ll let me know if they get some in. I guess if they get lots of requests they might source local rabbit.

  4. Susan says:

    I always try and use local shops rather than Tesco’s etc. but still can find it a challenge buying locally sourced fruit & veg if I go into my nearest small town.

    Am committed for the week & will see what % of my shop is trully local.

  5. Florence Briot says:

    I am already preparing for the”Eat Local” week.
    It makes me look at my diet from that angle.
    Friends and acquaintances interested and supportive. One offers me to get plums from his garden. Luckily the blackberries are just getting ripe along the country lanes and paths .
    I found local organic carrots at our local greengrocer.
    There is a free iPhone app called “Grown by Us” so you can scan the bar codes at the Co-operative supermarket . It tell you where the product is coming from. I have found fresh products grown in England, not specifically in Devon.
    I am looking forward to meeting you at the Market on Saturday.

  6. Florence says:

    Thank you Jane, I had forgotten about the cats food. I am already drinking sage tea grown in my garden. Remembered past holidays in Crete where sweet sage tea is drank in buckets. It is said to give you long life. I have also dried some rosemary which is also delicious as tea.

  7. Grazing Kate says:

    I really like the challenge idea of eating Devon produce for a week – I’m going to do it the week following as will be in Cornwall most of the week of the 21st so doesn’t make much sense.

    I would recommend Riverford milk for Devon milk.

    Potatoes and fruit should be easy, but what about rice, pasta, where are we going to get our carbs from? Any recommendations?

  8. Phil Cross says:

    Regarding flour, which I’d understood mostly came from abroad – I found this afternoon that the Co-op sell a bread flour with 75% of the wheat from their own UK farms. There was also a ‘just add water’ bread mix from Hovis that was 100% UK wheat. Interesting that someone like Hovis sees this as a marketing point.

  9. Fran says:

    Hi All,
    A bit of research that I want to share.
    Naturemade market goats’ and sheep’s milk and yogurt from their animals in South Molton (mid-Devon). You can buy it from Seasons in Well Street, Exeter.
    Dunns at Drewsteighton (near Exeter) produce cows’ milk and market it at Ashley Road PO in Teignmouth.
    Tavernors at Kennford, make ice-cream from their beautiful orange elephant cows’ milk and have own veg. and butchery.
    Doves flour comes from Berkshire but is UK milled, they are fair trade for other stuff.
    Moon Farm, just outside Exeter, sell bio dynamic and organic eggs and veg. Again Seasons sell their stuff.
    Pity that getting local oats seems so difficult.

  10. Dianne says:

    Thanks to everyone for the really useful previous comments. I am allergic to eggs, diary and wheat so the comment from Fran with regard to Doves farm flour was of particular interest for me. I have been developing my veg patch which is going to be great for this week!! Does anyone know of a really good grow your own veg book that they would recommend for future projects. Cockington Court have really useful information on crop rotation etc. if any anyone is interested.

  11. Mike says:

    Weight at beginning of Devon Week; 14st 7. Take note.
    Breakfast: Apple Jam, local, on Spelt wheat bread; the only bread I could find with flour from only the UK let alone Devon, and, there were rumours at the Teignmouth Producers Market that a farm near Tavistock is growing Spelt wheat. It makes a dense bread that freezes well, unique taste. I like it! Muesli by Pertwood Organics – Wiltshire. Yesterday’s chicken may have been British free range rather than Devon, my shopper was in a hurry, but the veg was Mr Tibbs and our garden. Lunch today Homity Pie – all vegetarian and local – and for supper – (leftover) chicken and vegetable soup. We did have to use up the last of the sweet potatoes, though. Will I fade away by the end of the week? It looks unlikely.

  12. Jenny says:

    Hello all,

    Well, a few days in to the week and it doesn’t feel too bad. As my dad (Mike) notes, its quite easy to make food last if you make enough of it… all the left over veg from the roast plus a couple of bits from the garden went in to the soup and it was easy to flavour it with home grown herbs! Lesson learnt… Left overs = great soup!

    I am going to be taking this idea to London, first to share with friends and then potentially a project at university – my friends run a co-op (non-profit volunteer food market) and I think it would be a good project for us to get our teeth in to!

    This has also been quite a social affair through chatting to all the shopkeepers about where they get their supplies from thus making it quite a lovely community building exercise. Keep it up and i look forward to getting involved in future projects!!

  13. Jenny says:

    The other thing I would like to say (and it may have been chatted about) is that Poppadoms do Ecover laundry detergent and washing up liquid – bring a bottle and they fill it! I know it’s not food but I am starting to think about the amount of chemicals we put down the drain… Another project this year at uni will be chemical free living – nothing environment damaging is going down my drain!! I couldn’t find anywhere else to post this so i hope you don’t mind me posting it here!

  14. Mike says:

    Weight at end of Devon week: 14st 3. Yikes! More Red Rock next time.
    On reflection, we (and I have been in charge of the menu and the cooking, which has interesting to all concerned) have had a traditional ‘English’ diet this week. Stewing steak and root vegetables, runner beans, keep the fat from the roast to fry the onions for the stew. In contrast the ‘healthy’, mediterranean pasta diet generates food miles, and I guess there isn’t enough demand, yet, to promote locally grown oats, wheat, and barley. I also need to grow more herbs for the next Eat for Devon week.
    We couldn’t do without – salt, pepper, tea, coffee. And ice cream, although that is available locally; ‘Orange Elephant’?
    Budget – decent bread and breakfast cereal is expensive, in season veg and careful shopping at the local butchers – Redferns – very good value.

  15. Mary says:

    It wss a hectic week and I was grateful for other people’s research. We did well on meat, vegetables and fruit almost all from Devon or West Country. It is a bountiful time for fruit and veg in the garden and Sheila had some fabulous sweet corn and other goodies. She even had a garlic from Kenton on one day. The problems occured with things like salt, pepper and added ingredients like lemon or orange zest. I used lemon balm instead on lemon on occasion but it is not good for everything. We also couldn’t give up our coffee. Spices have always been brought in by boat and in a carbon constrained world this may still be possible. Perhaps importing coffee is different from importing green beans from Kenya in the middle of winter. My main failures were sugar, pasta, locally produced flour for making my own bread and a Marks and Spencer sandwich on a day with a difficult schedule.

  16. Grazing Kate says:

    Well, I ate Cornish instead (as that’s where I was on holiday last week):

    I feasted on crab, Cornish Smoakies – smoked mackerel (that was landed in Sennen, smoked for a day and sold the following!), amazing local bread (Hope’s Bread), local cheese, Cornish Megrim Sole from the Fish and Chip shop, Betty Stoggs and Doom Bar beer, Roskillys Ice Cream, plenty of Cornish potatoes, Cornish Sea Salt, some fruit and veg (mercifully) and pasties galore . There were some other additions that weren’t local (tea, coffee, chorizo, couscous, breakfast cereals for the kids) and certainly didn’t lose any weight like Mike did.

  17. Caz Donovan says:

    I prefer to eat organic where possible but apart from the Farmer’s Market (once a month) only Waitrose can be relied on within Teignmouth. But I discovered Riverford who deliver veg boxes to Teignmouth on a Friday. and also supply many other foods including milk.

  18. Sad to see only one comment in the whole of the past year. Are you all still there, and still trying to eat locally? Like Caz, I mostly eat organic food (Riverford, and Duchy Organics from Waitrose, in the main, apart from what we grow ourselves). In Shaldon we’re lucky to be able to walk to Ode at the Ness to eat out, too. (The coffee is admittedly expensive — and I’ve no idea where it comes from, to be honest — but you can get a bacon bap with baby leaves and chilli jam for £4 and sit and enjoy the view!)

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