jilly-dougan

5 Things You Need To Know About Food – From A Veg Grower

Jilly Dougan is a well known “Edible Gardener” from County Armagh. She believes passionately that everyone, especially children, know where their food comes from. In this article she gives us 5 things we need to know about our food.

Ireland is great at feeding its people.

It’s the most food secure country in the world. We have some fantastic food producers and farmers in Northern Ireland and that’s something we need to respect and support. Yet lots of people still don’t know where their food comes from. We need to get more connected to the fact that everything on our plate starts with the soil.

Today’s children don’t know that vegetables come from the soil

In the supermarket, vegetables are washed, sliced and diced so children don’t realise a potato should be covered in dirt. We’re disconnected from the concept of growing but anyone can start today with a window box or a tray of pea shoots. It’s rewarding to grow a flower or something you can eat and think, “I did that!”

Nutrient-rich soil is food for plants.

I make my own compost so it’s clear to me how leftovers like teabags, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings, and eggshells feed the soil naturally. The compost breaks down and releases nutrients that are essential for the growth of plants. I see the results of it every day in the range of healthy herbs, vegetables and fruit I produce.

You can make compost – even without a garden!

Composting is nature’s way of keeping the planet clean. Even if you don’t have the space for a compost heap you can allow your council to create compost from the scraps in your caddy to use in parks, gardens and on farms. You’ll be helping to create something highly nutritious that will help food and flowers to flourish – that’s huge!

Putting food in your caddy builds healthy communities.

The money it saves the council by diverting your food scraps from landfill could go towards something everyone can enjoy – like restoring the glasshouse in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens or improving public services like libraries. It is a way to make us all healthier, happier and more connected.

Container of domestic food waste, ready to be collected by the recycling truck

Got a food caddy?

Reduce food waste in your kitchen by recycling your vegetable scraps in a kitchen caddy. If you don’t have one or need extra liners, contact your local council.

Jilly’s Recipe For Vegetable Soup
(serves 8)

You will need:

2 large onions
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
4 carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 leek
2 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons of rapeseed or olive oil
2 litres of vegetable stock (using stock cubes or stock pots is fine)
2 fresh (or 1 dried) bay leaf
Good handful of fresh parsley, chives or other herbs, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Wash, peel and chop up all the vegetables so that the pieces are roughly similar in size.
  2. Put a large pot on the hob over a medium heat, add the oil and fry the onions, leek and garlic gently until lightly browned.
  3. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables, the stock and bay leaf. Put a lid on and simmer everything gently for about 20 minutes.
  4. When the soup is ready, take out the bay leaf, add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with the chopped parsley or other herbs.
  5. Experiment by adding any spare vegetables you have in the fridge especially salad leaves, spinach, mange tout, French beans etc.
  6. You can whizz up the soup with a blender if you prefer a smooth consistency – add a dash of cream and a knob of butter before blending for extra luxury.

This soup serves eight and will freeze really well.

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Food Waste Recycling

If your rubbish bin is overflowing with leftovers, vegetable peelings, and tea bags, why not put it on a diet? It’s easy to do. Recycling your food waste instead of putting it in the bin only takes a little effort and is an easy way to help protect the environment and save your local council money they can spend on local services.