You are no doubt aware that what we choose to eat has a profound effect on how eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable our lives can be. Whether you are growing your own, buying local, seasonal, organic produce, or a combination of both, your choices are important.
But it is important to remember that what happens to food after it enters our homes is also key. We should all think more about how we store and preserve food and do what we can to reduce food waste.
We have 100% renewable electricity here. And freezing produce is one way we preserve our harvests. But it is also important to look at other, older and more traditional methods of food preservation. This is where a pantry comes in. I firmly believe that every home should have a pantry, where food can safely be stored in an appropriately cool environment.
Food preservation before refrigeration centred around a space found in almost every home – a pantry, or larder. Older homes often still include these spaces, which are cool areas where perishable items can be stored at low temperature.
But over the 20th Century – the concept of a walk-in pantry or larder was lost. Most modern homes have little or no provision for cool food storage.
Retrofitting of old homes for modern sustainability often revolves around things like insulation and glazing. Or the installation of renewable energy generation systems. But just as important as these things, in my opinion, is building space for food storage and preservation back in.
My husband and I are currently working on the renovation of an old stone barn. One of the most important features we have included in the design is a walk-in pantry.
It is an airy and cool space on the north east corner of the building, off the kitchen. Internal walls are insulated so that this space will be unheated, and outside the building envelope. It has stone walls, and will have a stone floor to keep it cool.
Of course, it will not always be possible to design from scratch. But even in a small flat, it is possible to build pantry provision back in to an existing property. Most people tend to keep food in simple kitchen cupboards. But by insulating a cupboard, you can return to the ways our ancestors did things and store food for longer, and more effectively.