1 week has passed since we have started this fully local challenge – and has it ever proved to be a challenge! While Malta may have everything to offer in order to provide one with a balanced and healthy diet, there is a lot that goes along with it. This mainly has to do with changing our habits
Before this challenge, we did not realize the extent we were addicted to our cups of coffee and tea in the morning! While yes, the caffeine content plays a part in it, it was also about getting used to something new. For Cass – A cup of coffee was how I would start my day, and prepare myself for the day to come! For Cane – A milky cup of black tea with a tiny bit of sugar would start his day and give a little pick me up through his long hours at work. Now we are seeking replacements such as herbal teas made from sage, rosemary, mint, nettle with some lemon and honey. While I’m still craving my cup of joe in the morning, I am slowly getting used to the herbal way (and probably healthier way)
2. Seeking Energy Through Fruit
As we have been desperate at times to regain energy without the caffeine and sugar boost – we have turned to fruit for our boost! We have been eating more fruit than every week to get natural energy. Maybe a bit too much for myself (Cass), but now I am enjoying a piece here and there as I get used to this new way of eating, and savoring the natural sweetness of the fruit that remains at the end of this season.
3. Planning with the seasons
You can eat very well, and very cheap in Malta – just a little bit of planning is needed! We are fortunate to be able to garnish our dishes with capers, since a few months back Cane had gone foraging for capers and jarred one for every month of the year – that way we can have capers all year round, and it didn’t cost us a thing! We had also dehydrated a load of habanero peppers from his Aunty’s field that we would have never used up before them going off and processed them to make a habanero chili spice to give a kick to every dish – which I’m sure will last a year at the least. Now, we have been picking olives, and jarring them to have for many months to come 🙂
4. Meal Prep is Key
We learned very quickly that it is impossible to eat out or grab something quickly when you want to eat completely local. Whilst there may be local ingredients in a dish, there are certainly items in the sauces, spicing, and some main ingredients that will not be local. Therefore, you must meal prep if you are going to be out all day, otherwise, be ready to be tired and hangry. On the plus side, this means you will save a lot of money, and be eating healthier, as you do not have the option to eat out! On the downside, this makes social events a bit tricky… but hey, Malta has good wine, right?
5. Planning, Planning, and More Planning
If you want to have local olives, olive oil, veg, dairy, eggs, fish, etc, you must go to different places in order to source these. You do not have the convenience of the supermarket where you can get everything in one go, you need to plan to source your ingredients from each place in which you wish to purchase what you would like to cook. There are places such as Vincent’s Eco Farm that have many local items in one place, but you will not be able to find an all in one as you do with the supermarket. You do not have the full variety you are used to. However, this gives you a much greater appreciation for the food that you are eating, knowing the farm/farmer that it came from, and enjoying every bite to the fullest!
6. You have to eat the rainbow!
In order to be fully satisfied and meet your nutritional needs, you will be filling your plates mainly with fresh veg, fruits, and herbs! Not only amazing for your health and your taste-buds but also great on the eyes 🙂
7. Discovering New Resources!
In order to find the best ingredients possible, it has been amazing to see so many people asking questions and helping each other out to make it happen! We have all been getting new ideas on what we can have, learning what’s in season, new recipes, and where to get what. For example, through simply requesting a box filled with local veg directly from the farm at Vincent’s, I ended up discovering this interesting, funny looking, but delicious vegetable called a snake gourd!
8. Growing More Ourselves!
We have realized that there are many things that we enjoy as a part of our usual diet, which may be very difficult or impossible to find in Malta locally, such as ginger. But that doesn’t mean it can’t grow here! So we are trying to grow produce such as this ourselves so that we don’t need to import it. Another example is tea, we cannot grow black tea in Malta, and therefore, we grow many herbs in order to make our own herbal teas. We also are growing things that grow quite readily! The field is already filled with all kinds of herbs and greens, which grow faster then you can eat them – so we always have immediate access to fresh veg throughout the winter.
9. Making Food a Priority
While we all enjoy food, we often don’t make it a priority in our daily lives. We do what we can, grab something quickly, maybe make a nice meal for ourselves a couple times a week, but just do what we need to do to get by and enjoy it a bit while we are at it. With this challenge, that is not an option, food needs to be made a priority in order to ensure you are satisfied and have the energy to continue on with the day! Isn’t it strange though, that food is one of our basic human needs – yet it always seems to be left on the back burner? Well not anymore!
10. Change Takes Time
Don’t be hard on yourself if you haven’t got it down right out of the bat – neither do we! It takes time to transition into such a way of eating. It goes against the societal norms, of going to the supermarket to get everything you need, or quickly grabbing a sandwich when you didn’t have time to pack a lunch. Or simply, making things out of habit. When we made a tomatoe sauce out of what would have been food waste, we seasoned it as usual, with our dried herbs, and black pepper. Then we realized… black pepper isn’t local? So we have anyways been using this up, learned from this, and are now more aware of what we are adding into our dishes. Also – we do not like to see waste! For example, while they may have been foreign, we were using up the last of our olives, olive oil, honey, and veg before buying the local options.
It takes time to form new habits – and hopefully, by the end of the month, this does become a habit!
What have you learned so far this week? 🙂