Keep Calm and Carry On Diversifying
When Yeshi first moved from India to Oxford he was initially excited to make the acquaintance of new fruits and vegetables. He tried his hand at growing crops that were entirely new to him - job lots of rhubarb (though this is native to other parts of the Himalayas), strawberries and Romaine lettuce. Yeshi loved the allotment life, but he became increasingly disillusioned with the sameness of the produce available in the supermarkets and even the much fêted fruit and veg stalls in Gloucester Green.
Modern plant breeding and selection is all about logistics, shelf life and ideas of perfection. These were new concepts for Yeshi. In India, and in Tibet before that, he was used to consuming food that was grown for its seasonality, flavour, nutrition and the role that it played in ensuring the health of the ecosystem.
In Tibet there is also a strong culture of waste not want not. This morning, when we visited Shotover Country Park, Yeshi came across this wonderful rapeseed leaf (pictured), which he plans to throw into tonight's hand-made noodle soup. In the UK these crops are grown for their seeds, which yield canola, or rapeseed, oil. You can sometimes come by the leaf in Asian supermarkets but it must be largely discarded as it's rarely found. It is peppery in flavour, with a hint of mustard about it. To Yeshi it is madness that this beautiful leaf is not more widely enjoyed.
The diversity of foods that we eat has declined rapidly during modern times. Apples are a good case in point: in the UK alone we have developed over 2,500 different types, but our supermarkets tend to stock just a few different varieties, most of which are imported.
The lack of variety in our diets has a direct effect on our gut health. Consuming a narrow range of foods we are more prone to physical and mental disease - diabetes and dementia among them. The answer? To spend our cash supporting agricultural systems that match our values and beliefs. If you're looking for guidance locally, Good Food Oxford is the best place to start.
More momos please! (Tibetan food is of course another great solution). Find us outside Silvie on Thursday and Friday evenings this week (5-9pm) or enjoy FREE HOME DELIVERY from Taste Tibet on Saturday. Just apply the voucher code MOREMOMOS at the checkout.
Thanks for reading, folks, and see you soon.