The importance of buying your Christmas dinner locally - The Stratford Observer

The importance of buying your Christmas dinner locally

Stratford Editorial 18th Oct, 2023 Updated: 26th Oct, 2023   0

Whether it’s home catering, catering for a Christmas party or even chocolates, cakes, delicatessens food items or special produce you need over the festive period, we have the best of the best right here on our door step to serve your every need. If variety is the spice of life, our region certainly presents a flavourful platter!

In this period of economic instability, we all also need to support our local independent food suppliers more than ever. So don’t just pick up your Christmas dinner this year from your giant supermarket chain. Order your fresh meat from your local butcher, delicacies from your delicatessen and vegetables from the local market and you will receive the best, freshest produce which is grown locally and will support our region. Many suppliers will also even deliver straight to your door. What could be easier?

Your Local Family Butcher

Buying meat from your local family butcher is still a cut above the rest or so says Gordon Ramsey and a host of other celebrity chefs. But as the stranglehold of giant supermarket chains tighten, traditional family butchers are suffering – and so are we, the meat eating British public.

According to UKTV’s food correspondent Clarissa Hyman, she says: “to look at most supermarket meat counters you’d never know there was more to an animal than prime fillet, sirloin, chops and sausages.”

For it’s true, on supermarket shelves you will only see a uniform regiment of sterile vac-packed, tastelessly under hung, generally bone-free (the sweetest meat is next to the bone) and a lurid, uniform pink colour under the neon lighting. Few supermarket cuts lend themselves to anything other than quick grilling. The combined loss of both the art of meat cookery (braising, stewing, roasting, boiling and more) and professional butchers’ skills is a cause for national culinary concern. But together, we can put a stop to this.

So this year, support our region and order your meet from your local family butcher. It really is a cut above the rest in that your local butcher will offer better service, expertise and a better range of meats than your local supermarket. Your butcher can also tell you exactly where your meat has come from, probably a local farm – and if you’re no Delia or Jamie in the kitchen, they’ll also tell you exactly how to cook it.

Your Local Farm Shops and Markets

Farmer’s Markets and local farm shops help local farmers and producers sell their goods directly to you. This benefits the producer, the local area, the environment and you the consumer.

Farm shops are usually shops converted from an unused barn and attached to a farm, from which the farmer can sell produce directly to the passing public. Some are simple affairs, with just a counter for the food and a till, or at the other end of the scale, some have become mini-villages in their own right with different food outlets, restaurants and gift shops (also great for picking up unique Christmas presents).

As farm shops have become more established and known about, as well as attracting passing traffic, many people now make special trips to buy their food and fancy, gourmet food items from their local farm shop.

Farmers Markets only differ in that they are usually held on a specific day in your local town and are where many farms / local food retailers are represented.

What can you expect to find at a farm shop / Farmers Market?

Most will sell a rage of produce that is directly from the farm, depending on its size. This will include seasonal fruit and vegetables, depending upon the farmer’s main crops, and quite probably some meat and/or fish products.

As a customer you will benefit by knowing that the produce is fresh and truly local. Producers are usually local (within a radius of 30 miles), or 50 for specialist produce, and they must sell their own produce. This means that you will often be able to meet the producer, a member of their family or an employee who will be knowledgeable about the produce and who will be able to answer any questions you may have.

Buy local, buy seasonal!

Farm shops are also a convenient way for the public to buy fresh, locally-grown or sourced food, direct from the farmer. It is a great way to engage with food growers and suppliers, and get closer to the growing source, and see some of the food industry and those who work in it, close up. It also means that consumers will be buying seasonal produce, that is grown in accordance with the seasons of the area and the county in which they live.

Buying direct from a farmer in this way, will put money directly into their pocket, rather than circuitously, through the chain of supermarkets and distributors. This will enable farmers to reinvest money in their farm, and to ensure that the farming industry in the UK, both small and medium scale, not only survives, but thrives. This is crucial for the health of the British food economy, and ultimately, good for the consumer too.

Finding the nearest farm shop or Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s Markets and farm shops usually advertise in local papers but also ask friends and neighbours if they know of any farm shops in the area. However, the fun way to discover a farm shop is also to get out in the car and take a drive in the surrounding countryside. Explore the country roads, and discover a great local day out in the process.

Many also offer home delivery or ‘box schemes’ – so why not get your dinner delivered straight to your door this Christmas? Not only will it save you time, you will also be doing so much good to the local economy, environment and your family.

Your Local Delicatessens / Specialist Food Suppliers

Then of course, we also have an abundance of exceptional local delis, cake makers, chocolatiers, wine merchants and specialty food suppliers also in the region. Source them out and your Christmas will have never tasted so good.

So order your Christmas dinner now from the exciting array of local specialists featured in this magazine. Even if they prepare and deliver everything to your door, don’t worry we won’t tell. We salute you for using local specialists and local produce. Way to go!

The Benefits of Locally Produced Food

Freshness. The further food has to travel, the longer it spends in transit.  This means that vitamins are lost and nutritional values inevitably decline.

Better for the environment. Buying locally produced food reduces CO2 emissions. Buying direct from the producer also reduces the amount of packaging that is required to safely transport food.

Reducing waste.  Lots of the food grown for the supermarkets is rejected because it is the wrong shape, size or colour.  Fruit and vegetables are naturally varied.  Who cares if our vegetables are not all the same size? It’s the freshness and taste that matter.

Supporting the local economy. Buying locally produced food helps safeguard local employment – so building a stronger and more prosperous local economy. At a time when our world is such an unstable place, is it really a good idea to rely so heavily on distant countries to supply such a vital commodity?

Access to food experts. Buying local food creates the opportunity for you to build a relationship with your local food producer. They will even tell you how to cook it and share their recipes.

Keeping our area looking beautiful.  Look at the landscape, the knowledge gained over many generations about how to work the land, and look after the wildlife.  When we lose say, an orchard, we don’t just lose the tree, we risk losing the variety – never to be tasted again.  We lose the look of the landscape, we lose our beautiful countryside.

Ensuring high standards.  Do we really know if imported food is produced to the same exacting high standards as it is here? Do we really know what chemicals and drugs have been pumped into our meat and vegetables? Do we really know what the animals have had to go through to be transported to our shores? No… we don’t. Buy British and buy locally and you can answer these questions.

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