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West County bishop eats locally for Lent

05 March 2021

diocese of exeter

Bishop McKinnel with his wife, Jan, and some local produce

Bishop McKinnel with his wife, Jan, and some local produce

A BISHOP and his wife have made their Lenten abstinence into a gesture of support for local businesses during the lockdown: they have given up eating any food or drink not produced in their locality.

‘I’m wondering if we should cut down to just three cream teas a day?’

The Suffragan Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt Revd Nick McKinnel, and his wife, Jan, believe that they will eat very well between now and Easter Day, however. “I want to try to support people working in Devon and Cornwall: local farmers, fishermen, and shops,” he said.

“It’s not just about giving stuff up for Lent: it’s been a funny year, and we all need to cheer ourselves up in Lent. We have had enough hardship without adding to it voluntarily. Part of our reason for doing it is to encourage others to support local producers — and it also cuts transport costs.”

They have been able to source a variety of locally produced supplies, from cheese and wine to fresh vegetables and crisps. “I even found some porridge,” Bishop McKinnel said. “Obviously, there will be some things we can’t get, like tropical fruit, but it’s amazing how much you can find. We will have to pay a bit more, as it’s a bit more expensive shopping in farm shops than supermarkets, but you can certainly eat well.

“A lot of farms are selling direct to the public now because of the shutdown in the hospitality business. Fish that would normally go to restaurants and hotels is being sold direct to homes. There is even a website: Call4Fish. I ate monkfish last night that had come off the boat that day. A lot of stuff that would normally go to hotels or restaurants is much more easily available.”

Bishop McKinnel, a Devonian himself, said that during Lent there was a need to look beyond oneself. “Times are hard for some families at the moment, and even here in Devon there are those who struggle to put food on their plates,” he said. “It’s great to see churches and organisations like Transforming Plymouth Together working with other agencies to collect and deliver food, and to support foodbanks: a real practical example of loving our neighbour.”

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