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Harvest – it’s a time to celebrate great British Food.

BFFWhen we push trolleys around the supermarket, order the weekly shop online or visit a restaurant, we invariably look at the price of the items we buy, but how often do we look to see where the product is from? It’s easy to grab the first bag of apples or carrots that you see, or pick up a pack of sausages or a ready meal. We might assume that because this type of produce can be grown in Britain, that the items we’ve selected are British – however that’s not always the case.

Is the food you eat locally-sourced?

Many items we buy on a regular basis travel thousands of miles to reach the UK – take, for example, runner beans which are flown nearly 5000 miles from Zambia, or carrots form Spain, which travel 1000 miles by lorry. These figures are just mileage from the port to distribution centre. Subsequently they will be transported by road to the individual retail outlets. That’s quite a lot of mileage in total! Not to mention fuel!

Supermarket price wars (yet again) are partly to blame – they can often buy more cheaply from other countries – and so is seasonality. In the past we wouldn’t have been able to buy certain produce all year round. However before we grab the thing that’s closest to hand, let’s take a second to look at the country of origin labelling and see if there’s a British alternative.

Celebrate British food during British Food Fortnight (20th September – 5th October)

We’re currently in the second week of British Food Fortnight – an annual celebration of the diverse and delicious range of food that Britain has to offer. British Food Fortnight began in 2002 and just gets bigger every year. This year’s theme is ‘Bring Home the Harvest’ designed to ‘rekindle the tradition of celebrating British food and the harvest across the nation.’ (Incidentally, did you know that the word ‘Harvest’ comes from the Old English word ‘haerfest’ meaning ‘autumn’?)

How to get involved in British Food Fortnight

To help us celebrate all that’s great about our nation’s food, Love British Food, organisers of the Fortnight, have suggested several ways in which people can get involved. A few of them follow, but to see the full list, why not visit the website at www.lovebritishfood.co.uk ?

  1. Shop in local greengrocers, farm shops and butchers that source locally and can give you the provenance of their products.
  2. Seek out food that’s in season – again there is a full list on the Love British Food website, but items include: fruits such as apples, rhubarb, blackberries, pears, plums, elderberries, cherries and chestnuts; vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, kale, pumpkins, turnips, wild mushrooms, broccoli and beetroot. You might also want to sample woodcock or venison instead of the meat you regularly buy; and try some fish other than the usual cod or salmon – Turbot and Lemon Sole are in season right now.
  3.  Another suggestion is to explore food from different regions of Britain – so what about a Lancashire Hotpot, Colcannon, Arbroath Smokies, Bakewell Tart, Rhubarb Crumble, Bara Brith or a hunk of delicious Cheddar cheese? You could also make a point of drinking locally-produced beers, country wines and ciders?  There are now over 1000 microbreweries in  the UK!
  4.  Attend your local harvest festival. When was the last time you actually celebrated the harvest? Unless you’re a churchgoer, the chances are that it was whilst you were still in primary school. The harvest festival is a centuries-old celebration of the bountiful grains, fruits and vegetables that are harvested at this time of year.  Come on – I’m sure you can still remember the words to ‘We plough the fields and scatter’…

The French used to think that they led the world in fine dining, but that is no longer the case. They do not feature in the top ten best restaurants in the world, whereas Britain holds two spots. So it’s official! – British food is great! Let’s vote with our forks and eat British whenever we can.

Here’s a recipe from the Love British Food website for you to try:

Scallops with Mushrooms and Brandy

Serves 4

  • 12 scallops
  • 4oz carrots
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion
  • 4oz butter
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 4oz mushrooms
  • 2 fl oz brandy
  • 2 fl oz dry white wine
  • 2 fl oz cream
  • Salt and pepper

Cut the peeled carrots and shallots into matchstick pieces. Sweat for 5 minutes in a covered pan with 1oz butter and the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally. Cook the scallops in a separate for 2 minutes in 1oz butter then sprinklewith brandy and wine and season to taste. Remove and place them in a warm covered dish. Add the vegetables and cream to the pan, then the remaining butter. Reduce the liquid by placing on a high heat and removing the lid. Place equal portions of the scallops onto a plate, cover with vegetables and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately.