Stocking Up for Christmas
PUBLISHED: 10:47 22 October 2007 | UPDATED: 14:53 20 February 2013
Ask John Sheaves if we should all be buying locally produced food this Christmas and he replies with an emphatic: "Too right!" The Chief Executive of Taste of the West is passionate about produce from our part of the world and he is ...
Ask John Sheaves if we should all be buying locally produced food this Christmas and he replies with an emphatic: "Too right!" The Chief Executive of Taste of the West is passionate about produce from our part of the world and he is eager for us to enjoy an extra special Christmas dinner this year. By buying locally produced food which tastes great, we could also be helping the local economy - and the planet too.
We all know that the transportation of huge quantities of food and drink contributes to pollution. So with the ethical message increasingly pricking at our conscience, what better time to make that extra effort than the season of goodwill?
"I think that people are now beginning to think, not only about the taste and quality of what they buy, but how they can support their local area and environment," says John Sheaves. "There's some fantastic produce in Somerset and you will always find a story behind it. Take the guy from Rowswells Fruit & Vegetables, who is a real entrepreneur. If I buy my vegetables from him I know they are going to be special and it's the same for the turkey or joint of beef I get from my local butcher.
"The effects of Foot and Mouth are going to be felt for months ahead, so anything consumers can do to support local food will help support the producers."
Last Christmas, Taste of the West devised a typical Christmas meal for a family of eight and cost it out - both in terms of price and food miles - first the food bought from a supermarket and then the local ingredients. Their calculations showed that the supermarket offering would cost £205.43 and require 36,576 food miles (more than one-and-a-half times round the planet) to get it to the Christmas table. The local food offering cost just a few pence more (207.15) and required just 436 food miles.
"The effects of Foot and Mouth are going to be felt for months ahead, so anything consumers can do to support local food will help support the producers"
So, if we are not going to load up our supermarket trolleys, where should we go for our seasonal goodies?
Make an early New Year's resolution to strike up a relationship with your local butcher for this year's turkey, and maybe use a tasty orange and cranberry stuffing or the award-winning apple and ginger flavour from Markus Products. Based in Wincanton, Markus Products' new Somerset Cider Brandy Butter is made from Burrow Hill Cider.
Try something different - like a goose from Goose Slade Farm Shop, East Coker (tel 01935 863735), or sides of smoked salmon, hams and even traditional home-made plum duff (Christmas pudding) from Brown and Forrest, who also do hampers.
Many Somerset delicatessens and independent food stores will stock locally produced treats such as The Bay Tree range of products. No need to add alcohol to their Boozy Mincemeat, and their Boxing Day Chutney is a perfect addition to cold turkey. The Bay Tree's Miniature Figs in Syrup can be served with a good vanilla ice cream, such as Mendip Moments. Look out for their new ice cream flavours, such as Christmas pudding and Damson and Sloe Gin, which they hope to launch in limited editions.
Shopping for local produce is made easier for us today thanks to the proliferation of farm shops around the county. Combine a day out with a visit to your nearest farmers' market or make life even easier by buying online from Somerset Local Food Direct.
Taste of the West www.tasteofthewest.co.uk
Brown and Forrest www.smokedeel.co.uk
Markus Products www.enrichyourfood.co.uk
Mendip Moments www.mendipmoments.co.uk
Farmers' Markets www.somersetfarmersmarkets.co.uk
Somerset Local Food Direct www.localfooddirect.co.uk
The Bay Tree www.thebaytree.co.uk