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James Warren: Making 2017 the year to buy local

PUBLISHED: 11:45 23 January 2017

James with his Mangalitsa and Berkshire pigs on the RSPB Arne Reserve (Photo by Matt Hardy)

James with his Mangalitsa and Berkshire pigs on the RSPB Arne Reserve (Photo by Matt Hardy)

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Choose a New Year’s resolution that adds to your life and supports the local economy, says James Warren

On January 1st around 15 million of us make New Year’s resolutions. Usually at the top of that list are - lose weight, get fit and eat more healthily. But as there will probably still be a whole shelf in the fridge taken over by cheese, cupboards concealing family sized boxes of chocolates, mince pies and other waist expanding indulgences – those good intentions often fall at the first hurdle.

So this year, why not choose a resolution that immediately adds to your life, not one that makes you resent it. ‘Buying local’ is more than just supporting local producers - please note I did not say suppliers - it’s about sharing your ££ within your community; it’s about finding out where you can buy lamb from the fields you drive past on the way to work, and beef from the tractor driver that you got stuck behind the other morning as he carted his silage trailer up the hill to feed his cows, or stopping at the honesty box by the allotments to pick up a bag of freshly picked runner beans.

I promise you that this initial connection to local produce will add hugely to your meal time. It will even taste better. Remember how good home grown tomatoes tasted or that mackerel you caught on holiday last summer? The produce will almost definitely be better for you too as it is fresher and less likely to have been meddled with, I’m talking about all manner of additives and preservatives which seem to be added to even the simplest of foods nowadays.

You will also be contributing the local economy, possibly resulting in more employment for local people. In my experience cutting out some middle operators means these direct markets can be very competitive on price.

Hopefully this will just be the start of your ‘buy local’ resolution; soon you will know what questions to ask to get what you want, hopefully not just local provenance, but genuine quality in the animals, fish and plants used as well as the methods or style of farming, as this is every bit as important as simply “local”.

Before long you will know your Mangalitsa from your Landrace, your White Park from your Friesian, and your day boat fish from your trawled. No longer will ‘local butcher’s sausages’ be enough to convince you of provenance or quality, or ‘South Coast fish’ suggest any form of freshness or sustainability.

Farmers’ markets are a good place to start your local food revolution, as is your high street butcher, greengrocer and fishmonger. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and when you are happy with the answers - buy. In turn this will make your local shops more accountable, responsible and ultimately 
willing to stock the local quality products we should all be able to afford and enjoy. Now that would be a great way to start the New Year and continue as part of a healthy and positive lifestyle. 


5 easy ways to get started

• Find out where your meat comes from

• Know what UK veg are in season

• Make a soup with leftovers

• Try a new food shop/butcher/farm shop

• Eat locally caught fish once a week


More…

Steve Harris: Dorset’s food scene hitting new heights - From wasabi and knobs to gin and vodka, Dorset has taken its local food scene to delicious new heights and is creating a whole new generation of food and drink heroes

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