Nigel Slater enthusiastically promotes British farming and produce in this dynamic food series with the motto: ‘Sow, grow, rear, cook’. The collaboration of farmer and chef really does reveal the whole process of the food we eat. We see it all from the beginning in a Cotswolds working farm, quite literally the whole journey of the food is shown; from the wheat grain being sewn, to the harvesting, to the flour mill, and then into the pasta sheets and finally into a lasagne. The importance of the traceability of your food is highlighted and Slater makes the point that we have lost touch with this in the 21st century, with the recent horse meat scandal sneaked in just to demonstrate his point.
As well as this, some sharp statistics* expose the British public’s ignorance of food in general, with one of the best examples being that 1 in 5 adults think that parsnips grow on trees. It does seem that Slater gets a satisfaction from casually mentions these alarming figures; it is almost as though he is saying ‘told you so’ to the ignorant portion of the audience. The fact that ready meals are 5th on the ‘top 50 fresh foods we buy’ list that Slater compiled, does is fairly shocking. According to Nigel we do 43% less cooking than our parents did, hence Nigel is desperate for the nation to get back into cooking and you can really see his genuine commitment to the cause. Nigel does a roast for 30 members of the public seemingly effortlessly, but I couldn’t help thinking that this was a slightly over-romanticised portrayal of the Sunday morning cooking experience, which for many Britons involves a certain amount of smoke and swearing. Nonetheless, Slater delights in showing us the enjoyment of eating food together; he gets members of the public who don’t normally eat roasts to attend and you can’ t help but feel as happy as Nigel at the fact that they have experienced a good one.
Overall, the programme educates people about farming and food in an entertaining way and will hopefully help Slater’s ultimate aim for the public to develop a curiosity for where their food comes from. The programme closes with Nigel and Adam achieving 100% traceability for their lasagne, it really was from ‘farm to fork’. Although my scepticism hasn’t disappeared (as I fear this idealistic way of eating is impossible for the many parents with four children, struggling to pay their mortgage, let alone the students on miniscule food budgets) I think it is a really fantastic idea and Nigel has shown how it can be done cheaply in this programme. The last words of the programme were: “so get cooking” and it really did make me want to.
All recipes are available online here, and you can watch Nigel and Adam’s Farm Kitchen on BBC1, Wednesdays at 8pm.
Photo: Property of bbc.co.uk
*All statistics are from Kantar World Panel GB, and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development board.