Wednesday, 19 December 2007

The contents of my fridge (Τι έχω στο ψυγείο μου)

The BBC has recently been checking the fridge contents of various people around the world. Here is a typical sample of what lurks in our own fridge, here in a rural suburb of Hania, which is a small town in Western Crete, the largest island in Greece. The boat ride to Athens lasts 6 hours, which means CO2 emissions are not easy to avoid. We buy mainly locally produced food, as well as Greek products. We rarely buy imported food products unless it's for a special occassion. This Christmas, I have treated myself to German lebkuchen and imported brussel sprouts, which I bought on one of my regular trips to the supermarket. I also buy imported saveloys and other sausage meats, because they are my favorite meat product and are not very well-known here.

The fridge door's main use is to store convenience food: imported soya sauce and small chocolates, Greek mustard, dates, children's pain reliever, Greek tomato puree, capers, jam, mayonaise, soda, ham and cheese slices, grated cheese, butter; generally, things we don't use very often. It also contains eggs (which are sometimes given to us by neighbours) and milk, which is a sore point in our lives, as we always buy fresh milk, and it is not cheap. A litre of long-life fresh milk costs 1.20 euro; we drink about a litre a day, so that's nearly 40 euro a month (which, coincidentally, is the amount of money I currently spend on petrol for ten days). Locally produced goat's milk - supposedly more healthy - costs twice as much per litre, which is why we don't buy it. By the way, we never drink bottled water, unless the water supply is cut off for works and maintenance, which unfortunately has been occurring rather frequently in recent times, so I always have half a dozen bottles in the pantry, just in case.

I rarely buy vegetables from local markets because I do not trust the farmers' methods of growing them. We are always assured that they do not use many pesticides, but everything on sale seems to look outsizedly perfect in appearance. Thankfully we have a large vegetable garden and some orange and olives groves in a village close to where we live, so we have a year-round supply of fresh oranges (we never buy orange juice). We have lemon and mandarin trees, but they don't supply us all the year round. We grow our own lettuce, tomatos, aubergines, zucchini, peppers, spinach, artichoke and celery, and freeze as much as possible if we can't use all the fresh harvest. When we run out, I prefer to buy vegetables from the supermarket or the state-recognised organic produce stores. We are also lucky to live close to other people who grow their own vegetables and they often give us products; recently someone gave us a crate of chestnuts!

We buy locally produced gruyere and cottage cheese, as well as mainland feta. I don't bother to read the labels concerning where margarine comes from and what it contains - we buy well-known brands and we know they contain chemicals. Some more of our staples are home-made pickled peppers and salted olives. We don't eat much bread - I only spend about 3 euro a week on fresh bread, including some mass-produced buns and rolls for children's sandwiches. The kids have a proper meal as a school lunch (which we have to provide), so they aren't eating a lot of junk food at the moment. The yoghurt pots are mainly a treat for them; in fact, there is hardly anything in the fridge which can be eaten without preparation. No wonder my children don't look into the fridge for a quick bite to eat. They usually raid the biscuit tin and ask me to warm up some milk for them to dunk biscuits in. I do make a cake for them once a week, but I don't have enough time to bake biscuits.

I like locally produced wine with my meal, and we always keep a few beers in the fridge just in case. Our meal today consists of lentil soup, accompanied by cheese, peppers, olives and boiled eggs. Todays' leftovers are roast meat and boiled beetroot. If they don't get eaten (but they probably will!), that'll be the dog's dinner. Aka never eats canned or dried manufactured dogfood - the local butcher (where all our meat comes from, except for sausages), gives us bones which we boil, along with some cheap pasta. I cook for her once a week.

I think our fridge contents show that we do care about what we eat and where it comes from. I am against over-stocking the fridge and pantry, and throwing out expensive or home-made food, so we make sure to buy and cook what we eat, and no more. Our two deep freezers are stocked up in the summer with excess garden produce; as we are now a week away from Christmas, their contents have decreased to the capacity of only one deep freeze. The other one is being defrosted and won't be used again until next summer!

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See also:
Taste sensationalism
To eat or not to eat?
Googling food
Eating locally
A day in the field