Shopping locally and buying British are things most people know in the back of their mind as “good to do”, but it’s likely that many don’t fully understand why. Without getting preachy, I want to explain a little more about the issues and how we can all do our bit to help, knowing that every pound spent on food is a vote for the system which produced it.
Shopping locally for food produced in the UK can do so much positive stuff for everyone involved in the supply chain. First and foremost, buying British food keeps the cash in the UK, supporting the economy and helping to reinvest in British producers. Of course we have nothing against producers outside of the UK, but you can guarantee shoppers abroad are also prioritising their local producers too, and rightly so!
Interestingly for many, British farmers have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. UK poultry, pork and beef farmers do not use any hormone growth promoters, they have low levels of antibiotic use, and generally the allowances for space and enrichment of the environment are higher than most other countries.
In my previous life as a member of the Jamie Oliver food team, I used to travel the world researching and investigating food production in countries such as Brazil, Thailand, Australia and the USA. Whilst I visited producers who were leading the way of positive change in these countries, I also saw first hand examples of abysmal animal welfare and toxic farming practices which would put you off meat for life. Fortunately for us, the UK baseline for animal welfare in food production is very good, and standards such as free range and organic are even better.
Some small shops, including my own, sell locally-produced cured meats from British pork and beef, which are a brilliant alternative to those produced in Italy and Spain, and essentially taste incredible.
Of course there are many products we all love which are simply not produced in the UK due to our cool and unpredictable climate. These include olives, citrus fruits, bananas etc, which we are forced to import all year round. Fortunately for us on the south coast, we have some of the best weather in the UK, and those in the know will regularly enjoy incredible tomatoes, aubergines, garlic, and even padron peppers grown on our doorstep on the Isle of Wight. These products arrive on our shelves super fresh, and best of all, taste incredible.
Before opening The Southsea Deli, I never fully appreciated the variety of British cheese available to us. Whilst I won’t stop buying Greek feta, Italian Parmesan, or a good French Brie, I can’t believe the incredible variety of cheeses produced in Somerset, Dorset, Isle of Wight and even here in Hampshire. One of my personal favourites is the Isle of Wight Cheese Co’s soft blue cheese. It’s like a cross between Camembert and Gorgonzola, with a slight ooze, a full flavour, and creamy texture. It’s no surprise it’s the deli’s best selling cheese!
Words: Daniel Nowland
Posted in: Food & Drink