Today I have a guest post from Taste Tynedale - a big producers' market with chef demos, children's foodie activities and live music about the importance of shopping local. Don't forget to visit Taste Tynedale in Hexham on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July:-
You know the predicament... You want to feed your family something that everyone will at least try, you’d rather you knew where it had come from, rather than giving them something hot (or frozen) from the supermarket shelf, but time is tight.
Once upon a time, it was easy. The man of the family set off with his pals and some spears and came back with a woolly mammoth, or something equally huge, then the entire village set to with an assortment of sharp tools and, suddenly, you had a load of meat to feed everyone.
Scarily today, things are more complicated. Dairy farmers are paid less for their milk than it costs to make it. Our meat is butchered and packed off around the globe. Even the basics like bread, are full of ‘improving agents’ and other things to make them last longer than a few days in the cupboard. One big downside of that? Those ‘improvers’ often render it tasteless.
And then there’s that thing about where it came from. The packaging is misleading – even if that food once lived or grew close to where we live in the UK, it could have been been halfway around Europe before it gets onto our plates. We see the ads on TV where the supermarkets compare themselves on price, not quality. Ok, there is no questioning people are under a huge amount of financial pressure, but surely good nutrition is the very thing that we can’t do without?
So, what do you do about it? The easy answer is ‘shop local’. The second answer is ‘get inspired’. But how can you do things differently?
With a bit of local love, you could pinpoint the hills in the North East where that lamb grew up, or see the fields where the cattle grazed before giving you their milk. You could buy your eggs from that place you keep driving past on your way to work, or get your veg from one of the county’s farms where the mud on your potatoes is still wet because they were dug up that morning.
Your butcher should be able to tell you where the meat has come from. Your baker will tell you what’s in the bread (and if he talks about ‘improvers’, walk out of there). Your greengrocer should be able to tell you where the fruit and vegetables have come from. Maybe the supermarkets will change their ideas if we take our custom elsewhere? A determination to shop locally may be the first step in a campaign to improve the way the industry works. Let’s hope so.
Taste Tynedale, with a big producers’ market, chefs’ demos with easy meal ideas, children’s foodie activities, live music, and more, takes place in Hexham on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 July. Get inspired...