The Beast From the East and the 30 Mile Menu

5 March 2018

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On Saturday afternoon I bagged the last pizza in the supermarket (double pepperoni, thin crust). Goodness knows what the next poor soul down the aisle had for dinner: the shelves were empty - snowmageddon had arrived.
I’m lucky enough to live in a small town with an actual High Street, so we didn’t starve.  Whilst the supermarkets had no bread the local baker was still well stocked. No meat on the supermarket shelves but plenty in the local butchers. Likewise with veg in the green grocer and milk delivered straight to the door by our local milkman.
And why such abundance in our local independent stores when there's diddlysquat in the supermarkets?  Because the produce is local.  It doesn't have to travel across the or across continents to get here - it comes from just around the corner.
Now I am very happy to have the opportunity to eat produce from all over the world, at any time of year.  But I'm massively unhappy that my local supermarket simply isn't set up to supply me with a carrot from a field around the corner.  Even if they do supply "local produce" chances are it will have left the field next door to you, been hauled off to a distribution centre on the other side of the country, before trucking back to a shelf near you.
Contrast this will the scene at our local veg shop, where, if you're up early enough in the morning you're likely to bump into a farmer or two jumping out of the Landover with boxes for fruit and veg fresh from the fields. 
We all know the benefits of eating local:
  • Food miles - the produce comes from just down the road.
  • Provenance - you know exactly what you are eating, where its come from, and what's been done to it along the way.
  • Profit - the pound you spend on local produce in a local shop goes into the pockets of someone in your community, maybe even a friend or family member, and probably gets spent in the community as well.  
  • Protection - there's growing evidence that eating locally grown fruit and veg offers great protection against air-born and pollen related allergies.
  • Taste - with almost anything you eat the fresher it is the better it tastes.
Even though we all know the benefits local shops and producers are still under threat and disappearing daily. We're at the point of "use it or loose it".  
Many restaurants now go to great lengths to source their produce locally.  the 30. 20 or even 10 mile menu is a feature in many quality eateries.  Maybe if we want to keep our local food suppliers, and avoid having to survive on Baked Beans and Bran Flakes next time snowmaggedon hits the UK, it's something we should all aspire to at home as well.


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