For some time now I have been thinking about the concept of ‘eating well’. It’s what us folks here at Pipers Farm talk about, around the farm and in the office, on a daily basis. You see we are all ‘food-oholics’... addicted to talking about food, gazing at pictures of food, eating food and thinking about food. We live it, breathe it, farm it and eat it.

The modern world has given us great tools to encourage our addiction. Instagram, my favourite for voyeurism. Pinterest to feed my aspirations. Then, there’s Twitter, to listen in on other peoples conversations. It is the latter that had me pondering deeply this idea of ‘eating well’.

There are so many people socially sharing their diets using hashtags such as #eatclean and #healthy, it’s a subject on everyone’s mind. Fuelled by the media who seem to have a constant need to tell us what we can and can’t eat and to expose the rights and wrongs of food producers. They brought us horse meat, no more ready meals, ok. Then we were all allowed to eat butter again, yey. Then suddenly no carnivore is safe as we might all unwittingly eat halal... And so it goes on.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly important that these stories are discussed in an open forum. Consumers absolutely have the right to know what they are eating. The problem is we all constantly have the wool pulled over our eyes. We go from one shocking headline to the other. The only way to get out of the cycle is to remove yourself from the mainstream. It’s not such a scary prospect, I promise.

Our definition of ‘eating well’ at Pipers Farm is relatively simple. It’s a combination of a few simple steps that will hopefully give you the confidence in taking control of your budget, your diet and your family's.

Here goes…

Eat less, but eat better

Yes, that's right! Cut portions of meat in half and substitute with a larger portion of colourful, tasty veg.

Instead of buying chicken portions, buy a whole chicken and make several meals from it. Get into the habit of using the carcass to make stock to bulk up soups, stews and risottos.

Make gravy with the giblets.

Don’t waste a drop.

Instead of buying 5 chicken breasts for £5, buy a whole, contented bird, that has been reared properly, isn’t pumped full of nasties and which will deliver higher protein levels and nutritional value. Trust me, you’ll make more satisfying meals too. Find out more about this idea in Planet Chicken by Hattie Ellis.

This doesn’t just apply to meat. The same goes for dairy and alcohol, too.

It’s a no-brainer.

Count the chemicals, not the calories

It’s hard to avoid processed and mass market food, but if you want to eat well you simply have to cut anything processed out of your diet altogether. There is not enough evidence to disprove that even the packaging alone isn’t causing serious health risks.

Choose wisely where you shop

Most of us buy produce from supermarkets where chemicals are king. One simple step towards eating well is to reduce the amount of meat you buy in supermarkets - or avoid buying meat from them if you can. There are more and more businesses like ours who are getting much closer to rivalling the convenience that supermarkets are so clever at offering. Shop by the week rather than by the day and plan your meals. You’ll spend less and have access to better quality food.

Shop by the week rather than by the day and plan your meals. You’ll spend less and have access to better quality food.

We don’t grow vegetables here at Pipers Farm, as we simply don’t have space. However, for our own consumption, we do order a weekly veg box packed full of locally grown, seasonal produce to eat alongside our meat.

We buy fish from our local fishmonger in Exeter, Gibsons Plaice in Magdalen Road. Their fish and seafood are freshly caught on the day and we often store them in our freezer for our own consumption, ready to use for another day. I'm sure that with a little research you could find similar great produce on your doorstep. We are so lucky to have so many amazing food producers in this country! Take advantage of them for your own benefit, it will also help support your local community.

Buy whole foods

By ‘whole foods’ we literally mean whole pieces of food like whole potatoes, mud and all - not pre-washed, diced and dipped in chemical rubbish. Buy a whole slab of meat instead of pre-packaged, processed ham full of stabilisers, preservatives, flavourings and other nasties.

Buy a whole slab of meat instead of pre-packaged, processed ham full of stabilisers, preservatives, flavourings and other nasties.

Cook it yourself

By cooking meals yourself, you can more easily control what goes into it, how much salt, butter and sugar. You'll produce more wholesome meals that are not full of E23, Xanthan gum, Ammonium Sulphate, or other chemicals that are commonly found in processed food.

If time is an issue for you, or if you're not a dab hand in the kitchen, start with just a few easy and quick recipes - the idea is to reduce the amount of processed food you consume (which also turn out to work out pretty expensive when calculating their true cost!). Truth be told, cooking a stir fry takes as little time than heating something in the microwave, so why not give it a go? 

Even if you get in the habit of cooking, let's say, once a week, it's a step in the right direction. You'll grow more confident in your abilities and you may even enjoy it!

Take time to enjoy your food

It might sound silly, but if you spend as much time eating a meal as it took you to prepare it, you'll enjoy it a lot more. That's the difference between feeding yourself and eating. Learn to enjoy your food. After all, you’ve gone to the trouble to buy it and cook it, you as well take the time to appreciate it!

Use your freezer (if you don’t have one, buy one!)

Not only it'll help you eat better and eat less, but it will also save you tons of money in the long run. A freezer will enable you to buy food when it’s in season and store it using nature’s cleanest preservative, cold and ice. When food is in abundance, it is normally cheaper, too.

Freezing good food will not diminish the nutritional value of the product. It will simply preserve it for another day. You will waste less and get more value out of your food.

Eat the rainbow

Good food is packed full of amazing nutrients that can cure and ease so many ailments. Nature is an incredible thing. Fill your plate with various hues and colours, they will each deliver different vitamins and minerals to support your body naturally. This works seasonally too - eat what’s good now and feel the benefits.