Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Local foods

Farmers Market Sign Farmers Market Sign Photo: © Scott Roberts - https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottroberts/

 

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CPRE has campaigned on local food since 1998 when it published Food Webs, a pioneering report on the local food network in Suffolk. Since 2011 they have published research into 19 local food webs across England, engaged national politicians in the issues and helped local food to be seen as a key part of a more sustainable food and farming system. Although dated now, the 2012 CPRE Local Food Guide contains helpful background on why supporting local food growers and vendors is so important:  click here to download the PDF

Eating local means choosing food that is grown, harvested and transported close to where you live. CPRE defines ‘local’ as within 30 miles of your home. This definition is also used by Asda, Booths, East of England Co-op, the National Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association (FARMA), and Waitrose, but there is no standard definition and of course it depends on where you live. In the Fens, it is very easy to find wonderful quality local food.

There are many reasons for eating local produce, including:

Taste & Nutrition

Food tastes better if it is fresh. Older food has lost moisture and nutrients. At farmers’ markets, the food is probably no more than 24 hours out of the fields. In comparison, supermarket produce will have spent time in transport and storage. Local farmers grow crops according to the seasons, and that means we can eat more like our ancestors did in the days before it was possible to store food for long periods. That is a healthier way to eat.

Local food

Local communities benefit

Buying locally supports growers, who provide jobs. That means our food security is more robust and we can build stronger rural communities with less reliance on commuting to employment in cities.

Lower carbon footprint

Fewer miles from field to plate gives our food a much lower carbon footprint. We all need to contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and wiser food-buying choices can make a big difference when agriculture is responsible for 9% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.

More natural land management

Not all local farmers can afford to become certified organic, but many come close to being organic and are committed to using lower levels of pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilisers - all part of more environmentally sustainable land management.

SOURCES:


Lizzie Bannister, a local CPRE supporter, has been investigating our region’s food economy. Here is what she discovered.

Once I started looking at our region’s food economy, I realised the subject was so huge that only a book would do it justice. Not having any time to write one, I decided to focus on local food, as in food grown and sold in our region.

I have provided lots of links to reputable sources about our region’s agriculture and agri-tech sectors if you want to look deeper into what I found to be a fascinating subject. I will also update the lists of local food suppliers as I find more.

Food is vital to our “powerhouse” local economy

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region is home to world-leading farmers, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs working in three sub-economies:

  • Greater Cambridge - 2 universities, and a mix of biomedical, pharmaceutical, artificial intelligence and other technology companies
  • Greater Peterborough - manufacturing plus service, financial and professional companies
  • The Fens - covering about the 1,500 square miles and accounting for around half of the most productive (“grade 1”) agricultural land in England. The Fens account for 7% of England’s total agricultural production, and contribute £3.1bn to the East Anglia economy. The whole food chain, from farm to fork, employs 80,000 people which is equivalent to the population of Peterborough.

A recent report by the National Farmers Union (NFU), ‘Delivering for Britain: Food and Farming in the Fens’, shows what a huge contribution this rich agricultural and natural landscape makes to food production in the UK and to mitigating the impact of climate change. The foreword to the report has been written by TV presenter and farmer Jimmy Doherty who says:

“The Fens is the engine room of British agriculture and horticulture, and a unique farming hub… Blessed with superb, nutrient-rich soil, which helps us grow and sustain an abundance of high quality produce that is the envy of the world, the Fens provides everyone from top restaurants and supermarkets to home cooks with the best possible raw ingredients for their dishes.”

This diagram, packed with surprising statistics about the Fens, is from the NFU report mentioned above:

The Fens

 

SOURCES:

We hope you will enjoy browsing our sections on outlets for local foods. In all cases, it is best to call ahead before a visit to check opening times and COVID-related restrictions.

 

 

Local food: your pocket guide This pocket-sized guide will help you find local food and the best reason to buy it.
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Links to more information on local food

Back to Local Foods Main Page >>>

This page provides an alphabetical list of sources for information on local foods, many of them with national coverage. On the other Local Foods pages are details of places where you can buy a wide range of delicious and wholesome local foods, listed alphabetically by category.

Local food

With thanks to Jill Wellington on Pixabay for the image.

 Big BarnBig Barn (2020) Discover Local Food https://www.bigbarn.co.uk/. Lists over 8,800 outlets on the BigBarn map, so we can all access the very best, freshest and locally produced food and drink (just type in your postcode).

 

 

Food hub Cambridge Food Hub - https://cambridgefoodhub.org/ An innovative food distribution system for the Cambridge area, aiming to increase the accessibility of sustainable food whilst supporting local producers and small businesses.

 

 

Sustainable food Cambridge Sustainable Food - https://cambridgesustainablefood.org/food-directory. An innovative and growing partnership of public, private and community organisations in Cambridge and the surrounding villages that work together to promote a vibrant local food system all along the supply chain.

 

 

CSA Community supported agriculture (CSA) - https://communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk/. A partnership between farmers and consumers in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared.

 

 

Country Markets Country Markets - https://www.country-markets.co.uk/about-us. A Co-operative Social Enterprise forming a network of about 250 Country Markets across England and Wales.

The Farm Retail Association (FRA) - https://farmretail.co.uk/ champions the best farm shops and farmers’ markets from across the UK.

 

Local produce Find Local Produce - https://www.findlocalproduce.co.uk/. An online resource for consumers to find all types of local produce outlets, and a means for producers to advertise to over 50,000 visitors a month.

 

 

Country Markets The Food, Farming & Countryside Commission - https://ffcc.co.uk/. An independent charity working with government, academics, farmers, activists, and others to generate practical solutions in climate, nature, health and the economy.

It arose from The RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission - https://www.thersa.org/action-and-research/rsa-projects/public-services-and-communities-folder/food-farming-and-countryside-commission. An independent inquiry that took place from November 2017 to April 2020 to think afresh about where our food comes from, how we support farming and rural communities and how we invest in the many benefits the countryside provides.

 

 

GBVGThe Great British Vineyard - https://www.gbvg.uk/vineyards?province=CAM. An online resource for consumers to find local vineyards, and a means for producers to advertise.

 

 

Indie CambridgeIndie Cambridge - https://indiecambridge.com/delivering-to-your-door A membership-based organisation for independently-owned businesses or individuals in the Cambridgeshire area. They publish The Indie magazine and have set up the Indie Academy to share skills and knowledge to help indie businesses grow.

 

 

Soil AssociationSoil Association - https://www.soilassociation.org/boxschemes A leading organic food and farming charity and organic certification body. From fruit and veg, to eggs, meat, herbs and honey, hundreds of organic farmers offer box delivery schemes across the UK.

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