WORDS Bethan Watkins

After five months’ worth of travelling, I returned home feeling fully nourished, excited and ready to better connect with the island I’m from. Coming from one island to another, Hawaii and its local community inspired a change within me and the way I relate to the land.

I saw first-hand how living off the land organically and sharing that with the community around you through local farmers markets, shops and festivals, you bring back that connection between the land, produce, farmer and the people. It was a real celebration which brought with it a sense of belonging, one which I felt could be easily recreated within Jersey.

I first heard about the local food challenge after leaving the Hawaiian Islands, but was keen to participate with my friends remotely from Jersey. I realised Jersey’s local food would be very different to that which I had become accustomed, but was up for the challenge and keen to explore what was locally available. With so much fast food available to us in the western world, I felt as if we have lost the ability to live sustainably from the land. This is a skill that I personally, now wish to reclaim. The challenge is to eat locally caught, grown, reared, brewed, baked and crafted food for one week, with one (optional) food item that’s not local as your trade item. The challenge welcomes all people no matter what your diet or lifestyle needs may be. I will be using my website to highlight to people the huge variety of local produce available to us on island, whether shopping in supermarkets or stores, foraging, growing your own or eating out.

Not only does taking part mean you help support a sustainable future environmentally, but your body will thank you too as locally sourced produce contains far more nutrients than imported alternatives. We often forget that our first defence against illness is what we are putting into our bodies and that the best way to heal is to look to our diet. Simple choices like choosing local vegetables, or locally caught fish, can really impact our health and lifestyles for the better.

As a society, I feel we have become disconnected as to where our food comes from, becoming so used to a huge range of food being readily available that we forget what it takes to get it onto our plates and how that has impacted the earth. Committing to buying local produce helps support our local economy, helping more islanders share their gifts with the community. I feel there is no better time than now to start consciously eating, for the benefit of our bodies and the earth.

In support of the challenge, local restaurants and food outlets including Wild Health, Nude food, JB’s Brewhouse, Samphire, Moo, Portelet Café and the Bastille will all be offering a fully local option on their menus for the week. Those taking on the challenge can therefore easily eat out, making healthier choices with ease and confidence.

Visit my blog www.jerseyfoodchallenge.weebly.com for many tips on where to buy local produce and the tastiest ways to pull it all together on a plate. If you’re not the best creative chef you can find inspiration with plenty of tried and tested local recipes that will help you explore more fully what is locally available. There’s nothing better than eating great tasting food that you know is helping the local environment and improving your health.