Our first encounter with the Fife Diet was a news story forwarded to me by my brother just before Christmas in 2007. It was a BBC story about Mike and Karen Small and their attempt to eat an (almost) exclusively local diet for a year. We had a jolly good chuckle about it, and then - well - the idea grew on us. But it seemed so barmy - in Fife! A Sicilian local diet might be one thing, but Fife?
And then we got to think harder about the food available around us. We already had a veg box, so we knew there was plenty of good veg available all year around. Fife is an amazing fruit growing area, with soft fruit farms and the orchards of Newbugh giving the potential, with careful storage, for year-round fruit. The Farmer's Market gave us chicken, beef, lamb, buffalo, the famous Fletcher's Venison. There was new artisan cheese production at the St Andrew's Farmhouse Cheese Company. The Fife Diet had encouraged us to look up and see the abundance around us.
We signed up, got involved, and began to see the potential and the madness that constitute the routes between field and plate in this country. We could see wheat growing from our windows, but could not buy local grain or flour. It was simpler for us to get to Edinburgh to the Farmer's Market than to any of the Fife Farmer's Markets, except for the once a month Dunfermline one five minutes walk away. By what route did the eggs from neighbouring Perth get to our local Marks and Spencers? The Fife Diet sought to find ways to have a more sensible local food economy.
Having gone through the year of a strict Fife diet, the Fife Diet project now aims to encourage people to eat more local and sustainable food. There's a good page here on their site with practical ideas to help. They're on a drive to double their membership by Christmas. If you're living in Fife you can register as an Active Member. If you live elsewhere, but want to support the Fife Diet you can register as a Friend. Here's the place do it.
And here are some beautiful Newburgh plums, now transformed into spiced plums waiting to be enjoyed with our local Christmas dinner.