Over the last few years, the argument to ‘Buy British’, particularly when it comes to food, has become front page news – culminating with the Environment Secretary Owen Wilson encouraging Brits to buy home grown rather than imported produce in January.
So why is it that we should be looking closer to home when it comes to fruit, veg and meat? Below, Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, a professional chef, pub owner, blogger at BritishLarder.co.uk and expert on seasonal British food has shared her thoughts with me, and put together 7 great reasons to buy British:
1. Knowing the past of the food we eat
“Certain assurance marks to look out for, such as the LEAF Marque or the Freedom Food mark, mean that the food we eat can be traced back to the farm it came from and will usually have been produced in a better environment. For example, in the UK we have more free range hens than anywhere else in the world and don’t use veal crates or tether pigs, so we know that our meat is likely to have come from a more ethical background.”
2. A Boost for Britain
“Growing our own food – whether it’s in a garden or allotment – is a wonderful way to save money. However, many of us don’t have the time, energy or desire to grow our own fruit or vegetables so another great way to economise is to spend locally and help boost the country’s finances. Not only is it often cheaper to purchase food from local markets, which can save you money as an individual, but we can also see a financial benefit for both the local and national economy by investing in locally-grown produce.”
3. Eating the seasons
“By eating British, seasonal food, you will get used to waiting for certain produce to become available each month. This means you can get excited about fresh, sweet strawberries in summer or crunchy pears throughout autumn and winter. You can enjoy the hearty goodness of root vegetables such as cauliflower and swede throughout the colder days whilst feasting on lighter produce like spinach, spring onions and asparagus throughout spring and summer. Even seafood has its key seasons – now is an excellent time for oysters, cockles, and mussels which are fresh and tasty throughout winter and early spring when the seas are cool. Each season brings its own delicious treats, so you can look forward to a range of meals all year round.”
4. Eating healthier
“By choosing to fill your shopping basket with local produce, it’s likely you’ll be eating fewer processed products. This is a good way to know exactly what you’re putting in your body and keep calories, salt and fat content under control. You’ll also be eating fresher produce that hasn’t spent time in transit which is grown for taste rather than having to withstand shipping. This ripe, fresh food will also contain seasonal nutrients, minerals and trace elements that our bodies may be craving at particular times of year.”
5. Supporting independent businesses
“Supermarkets can be more convenient and some do carry British produce (be careful to thoroughly understand labels, as some can be misleading) but buying from local markets or independent shops is an ideal way to help smaller businesses to thrive.”
6. Looking after the environment
“Rather than cluttering up roads and airspace with the transportation of imported food goods, buying locally helps to reduce the carbon footprint of your dinner. Not only do you know that your produce was created in a more responsible and sustainable way, but you can also know that you’re doing your bit to help the environment by saving on air and transport miles.”
7. It’s getting easier!
“Even if you can’t always get to your local food market or independent seller, you may find that they will be happy to deliver to you. There are now countless producers that are happy to delivery fruit, veg or meat boxes directly to your door, saving you from any hassle at all.”