If there's one thing more enjoyable than eating, it's eating with a clear conscience. I do not always behave with great integrity when it comes to ethically sourced food; indeed, anyone who has been a student in Manchester will know that it's not always easy to even identify what TYPE of animal goes into a kebab, let alone whether it had a happy and fulfilling life.
I am trying to do better, however. I get my vegetables in a box now from Stockley Farm, spending every winter living on cabbage and scraping mud from carrots (which were once so muddy that, to my great surprise, they turned out to be parsnips underneath) rather than scanning the beautifully-washed exotica on the shelves at Sainsbury's, and I try to buy meat from an animal that roamed free and made merry during its reasonably long life. On Saturday morning, for example, I had a long chat with some ace pigs and some unbearably cute lambs at The Artisan Meat Company before going into the shop and purchasing their brethren in sausage, chop and bacon form; the first step, I feel, in facing up to one's carnivorous tendencies.
And now, to make things even easier, comes Didsbury Dinners, a new low-carbon community cookbook that aims to promote food sustainability and make us think about what we actually eat; it's not as worthy as it sounds and doesn't, to Mr Liz's palpable relief, contain nothing but healthy recipes - the sticky toffee pudding, for example, looks pretty good. The book was launched yesterday at The Albert Club in West Didsbury on one of those rare things - a perfect Manchester early-summer day, and the sun shone down on the great and good of the area as they browsed stalls, sampled home-cooked healthy fare, watched people playing on large legumes in a vegetable orchestra (yes, really) and, erm, drank large quantities of beer and wine (I swear the vegetable orchestra thing really happened, and was in no way imagined by myself after sitting in the sun for too long.)
The recipes for the book were provided by local eateries and organisations, including Rhubarb Restaurant, Folk Cafe Bar and the Didsbury Village WI (who, incidentally, tried to sign up two friends of mine yesterday, giving them leaflets but simply bestowing upon me a look that said "oh no, I don't think so - you seem MOST unsuitable.") The proceeds will go towards a range of noble things, including a community orchard and subsidised cookery classes, and I like to think that in my own humble way I have contributed to this success, by drinking sustainable pints of Staropramen all afternoon and then calling into Casa Tapas for dinner on the way home for, erm, local Spanish delicacies. Oh well - small steps...
Didsbury Dinners costs £7 - further details available from Didsbury Life. Incidentally, after I'd left, a lady who should know better apparently hit another lady over the head with a small loaf of bread - never say we don't know how to have fun in Didsbury :)