The opening of the UK’s first Whole Food Market in London recently highlighted the public’s interest in organic and local produce. More than 500 greenies visited the eco-wise store on the first morning setting a precedent for similar markets across the country. But why go local?
What’s all the fuss about?
Tastes have become more eclectic as the UK’s ethnicity and culture have evolved and as a nation Britons travel more, although that’s being put to a stop with the diabolical exchange rate we’ve inherited at the moment and granted due to increased availability of carbon emitting low-cost airlines but we’re working on that one (supposedly) – so we want a wider choice of foods. Ninety-five per cent of the fruit and half of the vegetables in the UK are imported and can sometimes take weeks to get there which really is not good. It means for example, bananas are picked well before the natural crop cycle to ensure freshness at our doorstep. Some British fish is sent to China for processing as labour costs are lower and then sent back to the UK to be sold – that is madness.
The food trade is spiralling out of control and it’s up to consumers, who are directly responsible, to rein it in. It’s a demand-supply nightmare. Did you know a trip to Billingsgate will give you the freshest seafood available anywhere in the world and at trade prices, the very prices restaurants are buying for. Why on earth are you buying fish fingers from Tesco? Ok that was rude I am sorry, but I am passionate about this subject and I want everyone to rejoice in the happiness of locally produced food. If you are planning for the family meals, then buy bulk (it’s what this place is all about), and freeze if necessary, one trip can easily last you a week or two saving on fuel money as well. Just make sure your eco worktop is ready for preparation of all this beautiful fish. Have your utensils setup up!
Good to go local
Buying local food instigates a new supply and demand process as well as supporting your neighbours. It tastes better as it’s generally harvested and sold within 24 hours and if food doesn’t have to travel long distances before landing on a plate, food miles are reduced and therefore carbon footprints. It’s also better for people’s health. Mass produced food frequently contains chemicals, pesticides, hormones and sometimes antibiotics and these are normally good at promoting weight gain – not something we all strive for; at least if food is bought locally and people make an effort to get to know where their food comes from they can be content with the fact that they’ve chosen safely and put money back into the local economy.
How to find local produce
Farmers markets offer fresh seasonal produce that is low on food miles and uses very little packaging, if any. Find a local market, farm shop or pick-your-own farm at FARMA (The National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association). It’s not always possible to get to a market but there are some good online suppliers who are able to guide green shoppers in the direction of local produce or deliver to the door.
Amazingly, supermarket giant Asda has been green for a number of years and provides large volumes of local produce so read the labels and choose wisely. To keep food miles down they actively encourage farmers to deliver produce directly to their local Asda store ensuring a fresh, long shelf life. This is a breakthrough I hope all chains will follow, sadly it’s unlikely as I am certain this is eroding profit margins for Asda – it’s so refreshing to see such efforts from a large chain though.
I don’t support big brands but on this one they’ve earn’t it. Here goes.
And if during the winter the local produce is not exciting enough, Abel & Cole is an organic and local produce delivery company that never uses plane freight so has no air miles, and imports varied produce from countries closer to the UK like France and Spain. This will save on your household tasks, taking high quality delivery of goods without going to the lengths of going out yourself.
What makes it really difficult is when consumers are faced with their inner demons and have to choose local or fair trade. Decisions, decisions.