There is nothing better than sitting down and tucking into good local food, but have you ever wondered whether it is truly local?
Reportedly, almost one fifth of foods labelled as ‘local’ are actually far from it. ‘Welsh lamb’ from New Zealand, ‘Somerset butter’ from Scotland and fish from anywhere but the UK have all been sold in our supermarkets, pubs and restaurants under this fishy disguise. After testing 558 items in a variety of shops and restaurants, inspectors found that 18% of foods labelled as ‘locally produced’ were ‘undoubtedly false’, with many more being unverifiable.
Isn’t this all illegal? Surprisingly, there is actually no legal definition of ‘local’ in food labelling legislation and so there is nothing illegal about what they are doing. However, ethically this is a different story; we are effectively being lied to for our money. From a marketing perspective though, certainly ‘fresh local fish’ sounds more appetizing than ‘fish that has come all the way on a plane from China’. These producers will use any tricks of the trade to get us to part with our money and have done since time immemorial.
However, things haven’t always been this way. 100 years ago, all food came from just 20 miles from your home, whereas now most produce is grown or farmed a good 90 or more miles away. For example, sausages in a Lincolnshire pub were found out to be said to be made with ‘locally reared pork’ but were in reality made from pigs farmed 90 miles away. What about in our own home Southampton? Research has shown that Hampshire cheeses are found outside of the country and many of our pubs and restaurants are doing the same thing; selling produce that is advertised as local but are far from it.
So where can we go if we want food that is guaranteed to be local?
Lifestyle would suggest farm shops or Orchard Local Food Limited which is an online shop located in Hampshire. They claim to work closely with local suppliers bringing us the finest seasonal produce from across the county. Check them out at http://www.orchardlocalfood.com/.