Local And Slow Food FAQs

What is local food ?

  • Local means different things to different people!
  • It can mean from same country / region / county / town or village
  • Local (eg Norfolk) vs Regional (eg East Anglia)
  • No legal definition although Waitrose regard as local food as any food produced within 30 miles of where it is sold

What are the impacts of using local food systems?

  • Food quality – fresh produce consumed sooner after harvest may taste better
  • Gastronomy – enables rare breed and varieties to be maintained
  • Polyculture – encourages multi-cropping rather than monoculture
  • Food security – reduces reliance on oil-dependent imported and transported foods
  • Local economy – strengthens local community financially by encouraging money spent on food to circulate locally

Is there a downside to sourcing food locally?

  • Cost – can be more expensive then food bought in supermarkets through economies of scale
  • Food miles – may be no reduction if food has travelled to a supermarket depot a long way away and then back to a local store
  • Environmental impact – local food may not have the smallest carbon footprint eg UK tomatoes grown under glass require greater energy input than tomatoes imported from Italy that are sun-ripened

How big is the market for local food?

  • According to consultant Henry Brown local food currently makes up about 1.5% of the total UK food market with sales of £2.3bn
  • With the right approach from retailers and producers the market could be worth around £15.6bn by 2018
  • Key to this would be a system of accreditation for retailers, the development of local food hubs to aid distribution and joint marketing initiatives between small producers

Key Findings From The Grocer’s Survey on Local Foods (March 2010)

  • 39% of consumers buy locally produced food or drink once a month
  • 65% of consumers feel there is insufficient locally produced food available where they normally shop
  • 63% do not expect to pay a premium for locally-produced foods
  • 68% of consumers would favour food labelled as locally produced

Key Findings From the IGD Survey on why consumers buy local food (2010)

  • Lower food miles 57%
  • Support local producers 54%
  • Support local retailers 34%
  • Keep local jobs 29%

NB 31% of consumers said they wanted local stores to sell more local fare, up from 12% in 2005.

What is Slow Food?

  • Slow Food began in 1986 when an Italian journalist Carlo Petrini visited Rome and saw a new branch of McDonalds at the foot of the Spanish Steps
  • Carlo decided it was necessary to set up ‘slow food’ to combat ‘fast food”
  • The Slow Food movement is now active in over 100 countries through local branches or ‘convivia’ which organise tastings, themed dinners, visits and educational initiatives
  • There are around 40 convivia in the UK (including London) with around 2,000 members
  • The logo is a golden snail
  • The aim is to help people to enjoy good food

Can  you explain the Slow Food Manifesto – “Good, Clean, Fair” ?

  • Food should taste Good – modern obsession with shelf-life,standardisation and uniformity result in bland food that doesn’t taste as good as food that has been produced locally with care, pride and passion
  • Food should be Clean: it should be produced in a sustainable way without any negative impact on our environment and a minimum of artificial intervention
  • Food should be produced in a Fair way: its producers should not be exploited but should be paid a fair amount for their skill and labour

Examples of UK Slow producers

  • Artisan Cheddar made in Somerset from unpasteurised milk
  • Three Counties Perry
  • Old Gloucester Beef

Slow Food Events

  • Tierre Madre, Turin (every October)
  • Slow Food Markets eg Bristol, South Bank Festival Of Food
  • Slow Food at BBC Good Food Shows in Glasgow, London and Birmingham

FARMERS MARKETS are somewhere you can frequently find Slow and Local foods

What are they ?

  • Farmers only – all the produce on sale is grown or produced by the seller – there is no middleman
  • Specified origin For London Farmers Markets all farms must be within 100 miles of the M25, many are much closer and some farms are within the M25
  • Frequency Most farmers markets take place once a week, usually on a Saturday morning
  • Venues Frequently held at a school or car park

Are farmers markets organic?

  • No. Some producers are certified organic, some are pesticide-free, some are neither. Caveat emptor!
  • Stoke Newington Farmers Market is unusual in that it is 100% organic – more info here www.growingcommunities.org

Why are farmers markets popular with customers?

  • The food is fresh, local and seasonal
  • Customers love to meet the people who grow their food
  • If customers have concerns about pesticides or animal welfare they can ask the producer direct

What’s on sale?

  • Typically fresh fruit and vegetables, salads, cheeses, meats, juice, bread and eggs
  • Frequently honey, jams, cakes, fish and herbs
  • Not every stall comes every week