Make your money count when buying seasonal food this Christmas
The Campaign to Protect Rural England is encouraging people to spend their money locally when buying Christmas lunch this year. Charles Dickens’ three visions of Christmas are a useful reminder of how we have changed our food buying habits in recent years, and what future Christmases could look like if we don’t reconsider how and where food money is spent.
Christmas Lunch Past Bought from a variety of local shops owned and run by knowledgeable traders, stocking distinctive produce that bolstered the local economy. Little packaging and virtually no waste.
Christmas Lunch 2009 The same big names in cloned towns and high streets and retail sheds spreading across the country. The model of ‘big and cheap is better’ retail is concentrating our food shopping and money into the usual few chains. Job cutting efficiency combined with excess packaging and needless waste.
Christmas Future? If we don’t support the shops and markets in our local food web the future could belong to the retail giants. In their relentless expansion they could squeeze out remaining local traders and any real choice of where to shop. We will forget what fresh, seasonal food tastes like.
In contrast, local food offers incredibly good value and it doesn’t need to be the expensive option. Local food bought from farmers' markets, farm shops, pick-your-own farms and box schemes also tastes superb with wholesome, fresh seasonal foods aplenty. The variety on offer is the spice of the season.
Hector Robb, a volunteer with Cheshire CPRE who has been researching local food in the build-up to Christmas summarised the conversations he has been having with traders:
‘All of the shop keepers and farmers that I have been speaking with stress one thing over and over – this is make or break time of year for them. It is these knowledgeable, dedicated and friendly people who put food on our tables and we have a responsibility to them, and to champion real food. You get so much more for your money and help to protect livelihoods – if we don’t they simply won’t be there next year, the choice won’t be there and neither will local food.’
CPRE Vice-President Caroline Cranbrook and author of Food Webs and CPRE report The Real Choice added:
'A return to localism is going to become extremely important in solving many of the problems that face us, particularly food security and climate change. By maintaining and establishing local food chains, reducing waste and generating our own energy we will help safeguard the future. By buying locally you really can make a difference.'
Choose to buy Christmas lunch this year from a local farmers' market, farm shop or use a box scheme and you can keep local traders in business, cut down on packaging and food miles. By spreading a little cheer you can connect with the season, the food, and the real spirit of Christmas – and even enjoy Christmas shopping.
Find a Cheshire farm shop using our interactive map - http://cprecheshire.org.uk/farmshops/