RURAL MATTERS: By Tim Machin of the Campaign to Protect Rural England
I’m partial to a nice pork pie and bit of cheese and since I moved to Lincolnshire a few years ago, I have been searching for the local foods that tickle my taste-buds.
As an East Midlander I was brought up on Melton Mowbray pie, Stilton and Red Leicester (preferably aged or smoked), but have been exploring Lincolnshire’s produce and developing new favourites.
We are overrun with choice. Most of our staple greens, spuds and salads are grown on our doorstep with many available at the farmgate, as fresh as if they had come off the allotment.
At a reception CPRE Lincolnshire held at Grimsthorpe Castle in September, we laid on a cold buffet of wholly Lincolnshire produce, most of it sourced within 25 miles of the venue.
Cooked meats and my new favourite pork pies from a butcher in the Deepings; mustard and pickles from a small scale producer in Pode Hole, artisan bread and savouries from a baker near Heckington, some wonderful Lincolnshire cheeses from across the county and wine from a vineyard near Grantham.
Much of the pleasure in putting together the menu was the ‘auditions’. I reacquainted myself with haslet after many years, was too squeamish for chine but discovered Skegness Blue cheese, now one of my all-time favourites. You have to hunt for it as not many shops sell it yet, but it’s worth it. Shopping becomes a pleasure again.
In Lincolnshire we are surrounded by farm produce and we could all live very well from food sourced within five miles from where we live.
Instead, we traipse off to the supermarket and buy stuff that may have come from a field next door, via a 250 mile journey from farm, to processing plant to distribution warehouse and then finally back to the supermarket, but might also have been flown in from Kenya. It all then sits in the fridge for a couple of weeks and then a lot of it (apparently worth £60 a month for the average family) gets thrown away. Buying locally means you help our local farmers; money that literally gets ‘ploughed back’ into the local economy.
President Trump is ‘putting America first’. Britain, post the Brexit vote, is putting Britain first. I say ‘put local foods first’. Let’s support our local farmers and food businesses. Buy from the farm gate, from local markets – especially farmers markets, from farm shops and when you do go to the supermarket, look out for Lincolnshire produce.
If you want to join the hunt for great local food, have a look at the ‘Big Barn’, ‘Farma’ or ‘Country Markets’ websites for ideas about where to start. The Campaign to Protect Rural England has also just produced a free Local Food pocket guide. If you would like a copy then drop me an email to cpre firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the hunt and the pleasure of eating what you discover.