The Return of Local Food

Have you noticed how local food and drink has been coming back into fashion in recent years?

More and more shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants and hotels are advertising that they stock local products. Farm shops and farmers’ markets are springing up all across our region. TV and radio programmes promote the benefits of local food and the East Riding Council has even set up a Local Food Network, which now operates independently, by bringing together producers and retailers in the county to champion their cause and develop the market for local food and drink (see www.enjoy-eastyorks-food.co.uk).

This all makes perfect sense, of course, as we become more aware of the benefits to our health and the environment from consuming fresh, quality local goods (not to mention the benefits to our taste buds!) Throw in the feel good factor from helping to support our local economy and it really is a win- win situation.

So why is it, then, that all but the most committed of us obtain the bulk of our shopping from the supermarkets, where hardly anything we buy is local? Perhaps the two biggest advantages that supermarkets have over local food retailers are convenience and price.

Supermarkets are constantly introducing new ways of making it more attractive and easy for us to buy everything we need from them. As yet there are few local food outlets that are able to satisfy all of our food requirements, especially as we have become accustomed to consuming products from all over the world.

As they have become so huge and powerful, supermarkets are now able to scour the planet for the cheapest products and drive down prices with their enormous bargaining power. Local producers find it impossible to compete in price terms with imports from around the world whose producers are either heavily subsidised or barely earn enough income to survive.

This trend has radically altered our high street, where small retailers selling local produce are dwindling away. Hornsea is not immune to this trend. Sadly, since the arrival of Tesco we have lost one Grocers, Yorkshire’s oldest Fishmongers and, most recently, our only local bakery. The two butcher’s shops are hanging on but for how long? On the positive side, however, Williams Farm Kitchen at the Freeport is bucking the trend and thriving by combining a cafe with a ‘mini’ supermarket stocking a wide range of locally made products.

There is also the option of having local food delivered to your door. Since 1999 Arthur Street Trading (www.arthursaorganics.com) have been doing the rounds every Monday to all the farms in our area who have fresh, organic produce available to deliver to our homes. They arrive in Hornsea on Thursdays with an impressive selection of fruit, vegetables, eggs, dairy and whole foods. Farms growing vegetables are very hard to find in the East Riding, but one notable exception is Bob Slater, who rents the walled garden at Rise. Particularly at this time of the year, he provides a wonderful selection of vegetables and now is the time to enjoy his delicious strawberries. He is one of Arthur Street’s main suppliers but you can also buy direct from him at the farm.

Other producers of quality fresh products in our area are Elliots Eggs at Bewholme (where you can also buy pumpkins in the autumn), Mr Moos at Skipsea (Ice cream), Chestnut Dairies at Seaton (milk), Densholme Farm at Hatfield (organic wheat, eggs and fruit), Side Oven Bakery at Foston (organic cereals, flours, muesli and cordials), Foston Nurseries (organic eggs, and salad vegetables), Tony and Coleen Hunt at Barmston (organic beef and potatoes), Yorkshire Ducks and Geese at Leven,  and Green Growers at Nafferton (organic salads).

The fledgling revival of local foods in East Yorkshire is underway but producers and retailers need our support. It may be hard to resist the lure of the cheap supermarket option and fast foods, but it might be argued that this is false economy as we know that eating poor quality food leads to poor health and much greater costs further down the line. If you value your health as well as the environment and the local economy and want to enjoy the best tasting food, then it may well be worth considering a change in shopping habits. After all what could be easier than having it delivered to your door?

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