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Community / Councillor to eat local produce only for a month to raise awareness of food supply

A SHETLAND councillor is planning to only eat local produce for the month of September to highlight a “crisis” in global food security.

Alex Armitage, who was elected in May and represents the Scottish Greens, is also taking on the challenge to stress the importance of local food.

Alex Armitage.

On the menu is likely to be staple food like meat, fish and vegetables. He has also taken to growing Shetland oats, for instance, and as sugar is out of the window he will try honey from Frakkafield for a sweet touch.

Armitage, who works as a paediatrician, said: “It’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but I’ve been thinking about it for a year.

“As part of our manifesto one of the three themes of our campaigning was about food security – partly because of the environmental impact of food production, and also the fact that looking into the future food poverty is going to be a massive issue for people.”

He said the food supply is “incredibly globalised” and added that the issue needs to “come up the political agenda”.

Armitage said a lot can be learnt from traditional Shetland crofting, for instance. It is also important for people to grow their own, he added.

His mum happens to be Marian Armitage – a well-known cook, award-winning author and chair of the Shetland Food and Drink Association. She launched her first book, Shetland Food and Cooking, in 2014.

He said he might lean on her for some culinary inspiration, although he is not exactly expecting to make gourmet food every day. It is her list of contacts, though, that might prove most beneficial.

When asked what is likely to be on his plate through the month, Armitage replied: “You can’t go wrong with herring fried in oatmeal and boiled Shetland tatties.

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“The problem is that everything’s going to have to be fried in Shetland butter, which will be tasty but maybe not that healthy.

“The biggest challenge is that it’s my birthday in September, so I’m going to have to try to make a birthday cake out of Shetland ingredients. It’ll be some kind of concoction of beremeal, eggs and butter and probably Shetland honey.”

The councillor is also planning to keep a blog throughout the month, through which he will also speak to local producers.

So what is he going to miss most? “The biggest challenge for me personally is going to be coffee, because I kind of run on the stuff,” Armitage said. “My secret hope is that actually I’ll get myself off coffee, and I’ll be able to free of the stuff.

“Another issue is carbohydrate, because obviously I’ve got the security of being able to have tatties, but I don’t know if I’m going to be sick of tatties by the end of the month.”

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