Contributor: Anthony Davison
Anthony Davison, founder of local food and drink website, BigBarn.co.uk says if you want to shop ethically, you need to buy local.
When we think of eating ethically we think of phrases such as ‘organic’, ‘outdoor bred’, ‘free range’ and ‘higher welfare’. We consider how the animals are treated during life, but how much do we consider their route to market after death?
As we walk around the supermarket with our trolley, collecting up what we consider to be ethical purchases, what so few of us realise is that each of those individual items – organic or otherwise – piled high in the trolley, have travelled hundreds (sometimes thousands) of miles to get to the shelf.
Did you know that sometimes even products labelled as ‘local’ are shipped hundreds of miles away from their place of origin to a hub to be sorted, before being shipped back again to within a few miles from where it was grown or reared? Everything we buy when we shop in the supermarket has travelled and collected up unnecessary food miles.
Farm shops, grocers, butchers, bakers and delis usually source produce that’s as fresh and as local as possible. They often have a close-knit relationship with local farmers and producers and can sell produce at a far more reasonable price than the supermarkets. Yes, you might pay more for bananas or avocados, but I can guarantee that all seasonal items will be vastly cheaper and are likely to have been sourced only a few miles from the store.
Through the BigBarn food map on www.bigbarn.co.uk you can search for local producers and retailers in your postcode area, or sign up to a veg box scheme for a doorstep delivery.
Seek out your local butcher and make the most of the cheaper cuts they sell that you just won’t find in the supermarket – things like skirt, cheek, shin and neck are all brilliant cuts that go far and cost less, plus butcher bought reduced packaging is much better for the planet.
Also check out www.milkandmore.co.uk to rediscover your local milkman, sign up to doorstep deliveries and find out what other local produce you can buy through them. This is a great way to make local shopping easy and ethical – milk bottled in glass is far better for the environment than pints packaged in plastic.
If you really want to make a difference then seasonal eating is by far the most sustainable way to help save our planet. Of course, we don’t grow bananas, oranges, limes or lemons (among other things) in the UK, so if you want those then food miles come as part of the package, but for things like potatoes, carrots, apples, pears, asparagus, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce or plums, etc, British should be your first and only choice. Plus, by buying only what’s in season, you’ll save money on your shopping bill and learn to experiment with using a larger variety of fruit and veg.
Small changes such as these can make a big difference to both your wallet and to the planet, but only we can make it these changes happen. So, if you care about your environment and what’s on your plate, start shopping locally and learn to appreciate the amazing produce available right on your doorstep.
To find out more about BigBarn, or to postcode search or shop online through its marketplace, visit www.bigbarn.co.uk