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Local Foods

Local Foods

Cooking, besides being a source of inspiration can also be a good way to support good causes, among them to support local farmers and local foods.

Unlike large supermarket chains, local producers have a serious concern with the environment and the quality of their products and that is why when we consume vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and etcetera locally produced, we can feel a huge difference in taste, texture and quality, and of course competitive prices.

In addition to supporting local farmers, visiting farms can also be an excellent opportunity for you and your children to get in touch with nature, breathe some fresh air and see the animals in their natural environment. Try a fruit picked by you and even knowing how the process of growing and harvesting local foods are performed.

Recently I was at Real Food Festival and was surprised to see how people appreciate local food. Organic, free range, quality and flavour of products ranging from bread, meat, wine, champagne, fruits, sweets, beer, cider, cheese, coffee, vegetables and much more.

If there are many good reasons to start consuming local foods, why not start today, visit your local farmers and you'll feel the difference in the quality that you consume and enjoy.

Check this:21 Reasons to be excited about local foods.

1 - Support your local economy and community.
Money you spend on foods grown and produced locally helps local farms to stay in, and grow their businesses. As they grow, they need to employ more local people, and the local suppliers they buy from also grow and employ people. They all need more local skills & services, which helps to build a thriving local community.

2 - Support local farmers.
If you want to be sure that you are supporting farmers you need to buy locally direct from them at farm shops, farmers' markets, Pick-Your-Own and box schemes. No middle-men means that farmers get more of what you pay for the foods, which is fair when they are putting in so much skill.

3 - You can try something new.
Farmers enjoy food, and they enjoying being creative with their produce to bring you new flavours.

4 - Try Pick-Your-Own.
for an exciting way to get your food. Anyone can buy strawberries from the supermarket - be different, go to a Pick-Your-Own farm and buy only the best in the field when it's ripe and ready to eat.

5 - Reduce food miles ... and help the environment.
Food miles are clocked up when food travels. You don't want to collect these as they add up to an enormous amount of greenhouse gas emissions, even when food is distributed around the UK, which is bad for the environment. Research shows that when you choose to buy locally produced foods from a farm shop or farmers' market you can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions associated with distribution by over 90%.

6 - Reduce packaging.
Food packaging, much of it used to keep food safe during transport, accounts for a very high proportion of waste in both costs and materials. Buy direct from the farm and from farmers' markets and you buy less paper, cardboard and plastic which helps to protect the environment. While a fair amount of packaging can be recycled, a lot still ends up in landfill.

Best not to use it in the first place.

7 - Reduce waste - not just yours but the farmer's too.
Some of the of food grown for supermarkets is rejected on delivery to their distribution depots because it's the 'wrong' size, shape or colour. It's perfectly good food! Farmers selling local foods offer nothing but the best and will include large and small and irregular shapes because that's how nature does things. Enjoy the difference!

8 - Meet some very nice people.
When you buy locally from farms and farmers' markets you'll meet some very nice people, like these for example. Meet Alan, Victoria and Simon Holland with baby Grace, from Washingpool Farm, Bridport, Dorset, just one of the farming families who work together to bring you lovely, local food.

9 - Keep the countryside looking beautiful.
The British landscape has been created by the farming that suits it best. Keep it looking lovely by buying what it produces direct from the farm whenever you can. Farmers love their landscape too, and it has to provide a living for them.

10 - Local foods make travelling interesting.
When you go abroad, do you try to eat the local foods and doesn't that help to make a holiday memorable? It's the same in this country except that foods with local character had tended to disappear from view as supermarkets tightened their supply lines for easier management.

The good news is that you can now buy locally produced foods almost everywhere in the UK from farm shops, farmers' markets and, of course, Pick-Your-Own farms. Local tourist information centres should have details; or you can visit information about places to buy direct; or send two first class stamps to the address on the end of this page for a copy of our lovely leaflet.

11 - You get the freshest and best foods.
Pop some fresh peas from the pod and eat them ... or try sweetcorn when it's freshly picked from the PYO, farm shop or farmers' market. You can even eat it raw, it's so sweet and tender; from the moment sweetcorn is picked, the sugar in the kernels begins to turn to starch and the older it is, the more starchy it gets. So freshest is best for flavour.

12 - Buying direct from the farm is an education.
Whether you buy at the farmers' market or from the farm you can talk to the farmer to ask about how the food was grown or reared ask any question you like and they'll be delighted to answer. You can visit the farm, either as routine because it's where the shop is located, or for special events and open days.

And don't forget Pick-Your-Own. Children are very welcome and it's exciting to see food as it grows, to harvest it and taste it when it's really, really fresh.

13 - Buying local foods direct gives you lots of choice and varieties to try.
Farmers and local producers selling direct at farmers' markets, through farm shops and PYO like to offer you something different. Where can you buy bison or ostrich meat? Direct from the farm. Where can you find cheeses made from the milk of buffalo herds in the UK? Direct from the farm - and it's a fact that we now have more varieties of cow, sheep, goat and buffalo cheeses, made by small producers, than the French.

You'll find meats from rare breeds which offer excellent flavour and texture. (They are called rare breeds because they are not used for mainstream commercial production and, although it seems strange, the only way to keep rare breeds alive is to continue to farm them to produce meat.)

You'll also find different fruit and vegetable varieties. Strawberries are a good example. On Pick-Your-Own farms you might find Kimberley, Florence, Sophie, Elan, Flamenco, Honeoye, Hapil (a great big juicy berry), Korona, Elvira, Eros and Totem (a strawberry that will freeze fairly well). Each of these has a distinct flavour, texture, shape, colour and time of ripe perfection. By visiting the PYO farm often, you'll get this much choice.

Look out also for apples - there are hundreds of British varieties, not just one or two. You'll find more of them to buy when you visit the farm or farmers' market. Plus cherries (in July) and plums in August and September ...

14 - We have seasons for produce.
It's easy to forget that, while the British climate produces some of the most fabulous tasting fruit and vegetables, we cannot grow them all year round. Buying direct from the farm and farmers' market puts you in touch with the seasons when the produce is the best you can get. See the chart alongside as a guide for when produce is ready (this may vary around the UK and with different weather conditions).

15 - Food direct from the producer is fully traceable.
What more can we say? The farmer produces it and sells it either from his (or her) own farm shop, through a box scheme or from the farmers' market stall. And he (or she) can tell you all about it. The parentage of the livestock, the breed and why they choose to rear it; the crops and varieties and why they produce them - which may be because of soil conditions, micro-climate or because they simply like.

16 - The best ingredients and great value for money.
Top chefs know that great meals start with the best quality ingredients. That's why so many are fans of farmers' markets, farm shops and even pick-your-own if they have time. Buying seasonal foods means great value for money - and farmers will offer extra savings when there's a glut of any crop.

17 - Food sold direct from local farms is made with love and care.
Selling direct gives farmers contact with you, their customers, so they know immediately when they've produced something delicious. Your comments help to guide production.

18 - Better for your health.
Research shows that beef from grass-fed cattle contains more beneficial fatty acids than that from intensively-reared animals who never graze but are fed on concentrates. Plus really fresh, fresh produce is likely to contain more vitamains - and there are rarely 'buy-one-get-one-free' or 'go-large' options which means less waste (and possibly less waist too?).

19 - Support your local farmers' markets.
Buying from your local farmers' markets, even if they are very small, helps farmers and small food producers to thrive. With your continued support and enthusiasm, farmers' markets can grow to become bigger, even more exciting markets.

20 - Support Certified farmers' markets.
Farma LogoThe FARMA Certification symbol will help you to recognise farmers' markets that are operating according to gUidelines which protect you and genuine stall holders from being cheated. We think that this is important because local farmers put in lots of hours of hard work to bring you produce that they have reared or grown themselves. Other local producers at the market may offer foods they have brewed, baked, pickled or caught and they must all be present in person to sell. Anything less than this is not a real farmers' market.

21 - Discovering local food is exciting.
You will probably never lose the sense of excitement you feel when you discover your first really good farm shop, PYO or farmers' market. Local foods are interesting, they are carefully made by people who love food. And their enthusiasm passes to you, which is exciting for everyone.

For more info:
PO Box 575, Southampton
S015 7BZ

FARMA exists to support farmers and local producers selling direct with the aim of increasing their professionalism and improving their prospects for the future.

Try Local Foods