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  • Writer's pictureChef James Oakley

Where does food come from?

Where does food come from?

Almost seems a stupid question to ask, but really stop and think about it....... Really where does your food come from?

I live in Hong Kong and for most food comes from the supermarket or the wet market, for many people living and working in a busy metropolitan city this is the depth of understanding, It is difficult to know how food grows, it's natural habitat, when surrounded by concrete, glass and steel! Even working within the food industry I have found that it is rare in these cities to find someone with a true understanding for food and where it comes from, after all we order our ingredients, particular cuts of meat and certain vegetables from our supplier's and the food is delivered to our kitchen. It seems such a shame, considering that sustenance and consuming food is essential to life that we know so little about it! Farming and the trading of goods has allowed us as a human race to develop and allow society to become what it has today, let's face it, without we would all still be out hunting, foraging and fighting for our next meal. There would likely be no smart phone, no space exploration etc But......

I have been fortunate growing up in the UK even inner city you are never too far from the countryside. My grandmother had an apple tree in her garden, grew strawberries in summer and even kept chickens for there eggs! As a child we used to pick wild blackberries as a family, venture into the woods searching for mushrooms and during spring we had bags full of wild garlic, free greens curtsey of mother nature. As a child we took these simple things for granted but now as an adult and chef working inner-city I feel so blessed to have had this expierence as this is something no kitchen could have ever taught me! I feel that having these experiences has brought more soul and heart to my cooking, I feel that I have more understanding and more respect for food, even though we are living largely detached from nature now, my wife and I are trying to build this kind of relationship between our children and their understanding of food. We grow what we can in plant pots in our tiny city appartment and teach the kids about wild food and foraging on our annual trips back to my wife's home town in Indonesia. I would encourage anyone and everyone to take some time during their lifetime, get into the wild and try to understand more of what supports our wonderful gift of life!

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