Growing up in Berkeley, California (also known as the hippie capital of the world), my parents always enforced the value of eating sustainably and minimising waste when it came to food. However, when I came to university, these habits were quickly flushed down the toilet with the endless Dervish trips (drunk and sober, I’m not proud of it), ensuing hungover Deliveroo purchases, and Tescos meal deals. So, I decided to set out to find the most sustainable and zero-waste food options around St. Andrews. How could I, as a university student, eat healthy, local, and eco-friendly food in an affordable and realistic way?
The answer? It’s actually incredibly easy. The wonderful thing about living in a small town like St Andrews is the incredible access we have, year-round, to local and sustainably-grown food. While sometimes requiring a bit more effort than an average Morrisons’ shop, a good portion of food waste involving groceries, meat products, and meals can be minimised in a few simple steps.
Minick of St Andrews: Trying to eat sustainably but reluctant to cut out meat? Visit the Minick of St Andrews on Bell Street! A small, independently-owned shop sourcing local Scottish butchers, Minick sells everything from burgers, sausages, mince meat, and chicken to pre-made pies and haggis. Often, they’ll even have seasonal produce available at the front of the store. The best part: a special deal for students of 5 meat items for 10 pounds. Bring your own container to reduce plastic bags and make sure to talk to the man working the counter for a good chat.
Tailend: For fish-lovers out there, Tailend on Market Street has a fish counter that is stocked daily with fresh, locally caught fish. Most fillets go between £3-5 with options such as calamari, langoustine, and scallops also being available. If you’d prefer not to cook, the fish counter also has items such ready-to-eat smokies from Arbroath, and ready meals.
Morrisons Fish Counter: For a cheaper alternative, visit the fish counter at Morrisons. The fish there isn’t prepackaged like much of the fish you’ll find in shops, and if you bring your own packaging or container, you’ll be able to spare a bit of plastic.
Birchwood Organic Store: Located at the end of South Street, Birchwood offers plenty of package-free seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farmers. It’s also a great place to buy fresh, package-free bread. For those of you aiming to eat more plant-based, Birchwood is also my absolute favourite place for meat and dairy alternatives to all of my favourite foods (really really good vegan mac ‘n’ cheese). Top tip: they brew their own kombucha that you can buy in reusable glass bottles. If you bring the bottles back, you’ll get money off your next purchase. Top tip #2: 10% off for students!
Balgove Larder: Another one of my favourites. About a 20-minute walk from the center of town, Balgove Larder is a family-run farm with a storefront to buy their, and other Scottish farmers’, products. Go here for the freshest seasonal produce, meat, fish, and deli options, as well a delicious cheese counter. Last week, I scored some chanterelles (funky looking orange mushrooms) for £3 here and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. Balgove Larder is also a butchery, meaning most of the meat available has been ethically treated and raised on site.
St Andrews Farmers Markets: Little known fact: on the first weekend of every month, St Andrews has a farmers market in Argyle Car Park. There’s usually about 20 stalls selling things like local produce, baked goods, eggs, cheese, alcohol, condiments, and snacks. Most of the products are very reasonably priced, and it makes for a very nice and wholesome Saturday morning.
Morrisons Wonky Produce options: One of my favourite reasons to shop at Morrisons is their range of wonky produce. If you’re not too picky about what your produce looks like, you can get a bag of funnily-shaped, “wonky” produce (at an incredibly discounted rate) instead. This allows the shop to minimise the amount of fruits and vegetables they throw out due to inconsequential defects in their appearance. My favourite wonky things to buy are the avocados (£2.40 for 8 avocados), grapes for 85p, and 2.5 kg of potatoes for £1 pound.
Combinico: Ever since its launch a few years ago, customers have flocked to Combinico to enjoy their delicious Korean-fusion-style bowls and snacks. Products such as salmon and vegetables are locally sourced, and every meal has an accompanying carbon-emissions label to let customers know how much carbon was used to make their meal. Tip: for those craving sushi, rather than throwing out leftover sushi trimmings and ends, Combinico sometimes sells them for a discounted price. It’s not enough for a full meal, but definitely a great snack.
Balgove Larder: The farm also has a very charming cafe that serves breakfast and lunch, and a steak barn that serves dinner. All dishes – from homemade Scottish porridge to seasonal soup and steak – use ingredients grown on the farm itself, and, I can say from experience, are all delicious.
Ecoeats: This new delivery app was started just last year by St Andrews students themselves and offers just as many (although a somewhat different selection of) options as Deliveroo. The delivery service allows for users to lower their carbon footprint while supporting local businesses. Because they rely exclusively on bikes to deliver their food, all deliveries consist of zero emissions. Top tip: although zero waste delivery may not be possible, ask the cafe to not to include things such as napkins, plastic cutlery, etc.
***It should be noted that this is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, there are many independently- owned local businesses, restaurants, and cafes in St Andrews that pride themselves on sourcing sustainably and ethically-grown products. Restaurants such as Rogue, Haar, the Rav, Forgans, Mitchells, Janetta’s Gelateria, and more take advantage of local and seasonal ingredients. Definitely one of the benefits of living in St Andrews.***
Author: Alexandra Blanter