Well, we are still putting ourselves about a bit, bringing the message of The Food Maze to a wider audience. Does that sound too evangelistic? I must say, it’s a bit of a problem to discuss the contents of the book, or indeed the ethos of Aspen House, without succumbing to the use of phraseology with religious overtones. Phrases like ‘seen the light’, ‘spread the word’ or ‘smiting the Philistines’ seem to trip off the tongue quite easily when engaged in a conversation about real food versus industrial food. But, there we are. There’s nothing to be done. The mission must go on. Whoops! There I go again.
So today, we travelled to Grosmont, where I had been invited to talk to the nascent Community Garden group about the negative impact of industrialised food on us, our farming, our soils and our planet. As you may remember from past diary entries, the good people of Grosmont have already managed to get a community pig project going. Now, one of the organisers behind that idea is attempting to generate interest in establishing a horticultural project that would ultimately make Grosmont self-sufficient in seasonal fruit and vegetables.
We are having a lot of fun with giving talks to this kind of group. Writing The Food Maze was of course only one more step on our journey, and is certainly not an end in itself, rather a platform from which to preach to the unconverted. Oh no! I did it again! Seriously though, what Sally and I have found over the last five years is that there is a huge amount to find out. Every question we asked prompted another six, and we have become the most avid readers. New bookshelves have appeared in various locations around the house, and our library grows almost weekly. The conclusion we have long since reached is that we have all been taken for a very long ride by those who would make money from processing and thus degrading our food.
I was more than happy to talk to the people of Grosmont about all this. In fact, you might say I was enthusiastic. The cynics amongst you might intimate that the only reason for this was the fact that it was an afternoon talk, finishing at four o’clock, and that today coincided with the opening of Gentle Jane for the summer season. As if I would be persuaded to go to Grosmont simply because of Gentle Jane! What do you take me for? The coffee was amazing, though – as good as ever. And the lemon polenta cake was stunning. Plus, we were treated to this welcome diversion by the Aged Ps, who must have wondered what they were doing in a meeting about community gardens . . . we forgot to explain that bit to them. Despite this oversight, they held no grudge and were quite prepared to foot the bill for comestibles.
As for the people of Grosmont, the old market house in which the meeting took place was buzzing with enthusiasm, with a couple of those attending so motivated by the idea that they wanted to get out there immediately and start digging. It’s fantastic to see. Sally and I are still viewed by many as a couple of cranks, but it is more and more the case these days that we are not alone. It could be said that our views are shared by some serious players, and that our attempts to spread the word (DOH!) don’t quite sound so wacky these days. That brighter future that we see in the distance is definitely now more than just a pale light at the end of a very long tunnel.