In these busy days we can easily be forgiven for a mad ‘one dash does it all’ to our nearest supermarket. However are we in danger of losing more than just local shops and producers? Are we really looking at the bigger picture as we desperately make a grab for that last bag of Spanish apples on the shelf? Who cares it’s just an apple after all – or is it?
Buying locally produced produce is so much more than just buying British. Local produce not only tastes great but helps the environment and the local economy, it can be exciting, invigorating, sociable, mentally stimulating and satisfying.
So let’s take stock for one moment and think, if we buy the first apple/tomato/lettuce that we pick up what are we actually buying into?
Local food is fresher, it hasn’t travelled thousands of miles from the Outer Hebrides for example (I exaggerate to prove a point). It’s more than likely been grown 10-30 miles away, and you may be buying straight from the farm that produced it. Therefore this produce has probably been harvested in the last 24 hours rather than over a week ago and kept refrigerated for all that time journeying by rail, road, sea or air, further refrigerated storage and finally road again to arrive at the supermarkets.
Eating fruit and veg in season means you appreciate that cauliflower, potato or sweetcorn all the more. The current June Kent crops of asparagus and strawberries and cherries are delicious. Buying foods grown or produced close to home ensures you will be less likely to be contributing to rainforests being cleared to graze cattle for instance. As importantly it helps to maintain farm land and green spaces near to where you live. If the local farmers are unable to keep their farms viable then they may decide to sell up and it’s highly likely land will be bought by developers.
Knowing where your food comes from and how it’s produced makes your meals more personal, the challenge of using seasonal fruit and veg in your recipes leads to more interesting mealtimes and buying locally keeps money spent local – supporting restaurants that use local produce, farmers markets and local cooperatives ensuring profits benefit producers rather than the big business supermarkets.
For some, buying local can be an extremely social exercise, the sellers and producers end up on a first name basis and give a more personal service such as putting by that favourite variety of tomato for you.
So it’s not just an apple after all – it’s helping to preserve our way of life, the countryside we all love, that apple is contributing to supporting our local economy and even meeting likeminded people.