Saturday was just a great day for local food. From an empty sports hall to an indoor market in one and a half hours with 20 stalls setup. A tremendous job from all the people who setup tables, attached garden canes, hung up bunting, set covering cloths, organised the kids zone, brought chickens, produced leaflets, showcased veg boxes, offered tastings, etc. There was a real buzz about the room with well over 100 adults all talking about our food. We had over 50 feedback forms so yet again thats a massive amount of information to chew over !… You told us where you shopped, what you thought local was, what your interests were, and we wont forget any of them.
The plans are to improve our LinlithGROW website www.linlithgrow.org.uk , to produce some kind of small booklet with information on where to source local produce from the surrounding area, and also to look at the best approach to move forward with improving our health, eating more locally and seasonally, and also in reducing our environmental impact as a result.
The end of supermarket dominance is not quite here yet, but we can build a better food system by joining consumers and producers in a closer relationship of understanding and risk sharing. The benefits are massive. We dont need dependence on so much oil or chemicals, or genetic modification to feed our population.
Watch the website for details on future food events. Skills courses, Celebrations etc.
Grants Countdown Clock is ticking.
While the Energy Saving Trust does offer a grant for renewable technology, expect it to end soon with the introduction of the new Feed-in-Tariffs FIT, and Renewable Heat Incentives RHI. 30% or £4k off wont last for long, and there’s already news that the Low Carbon incentive in England has closed.
So if you do want to have a solar panel, then get your skates on.
RHI will come into effect in April 2011, but there’s an indication that it will be backdated for those installing solar thermal panels now. Lets hope any UK election doesn’t mess that up !. MP’s from all parties please note….
A little out of town for local food provision [although they do deliver this far], this is a great example of a farm with a vision. Organic to the core, they have invested in a stunning cafe/art gallery and shop. Trying to strike the right balance to encourage people to visit and purchase, but after a tour of the farm and talking to the owner, we need to remember to treat these outlets not as a weekend distraction or alternative to shopping centres, but as a serious place to buy your food. Ah, I hear you all cry, it’s more expensive all this farm food. I’m not so sure and would love to do some proper research into comparisons on shopping basket contents between those that shop with local farmers and those that use the supermarkets.
The main point I’m trying to make is that you are not comparing similar businesses. One is totally profit orientated and the produce is just a vehicle to take money off you. Incentives, fake smells, orientations of food on shelves, sweets and colourful cakes at kids height, lights over veg to make them more attractive. Perfectly uniform shaped apples and oranges, 2 for 1 deals, special offers, images to re-enforce what was on sale the night before on TV etc. The other, real produce, seasonal where possible, earthy, and owners passionate about the produce. The carrots, the spuds, the lamb cuts, the muesli base, the jams and chutneys. Ok so there’s the coffee shop and the cakes, and art for sale, but its much much lower key.
Just take a look at the person next to you in the shopping queue. What are they buying, what are you buying ? Do you know where it comes from ? Do you know what it’s been through to get to you from soil to shopping bag ? Odds are that unless you realise what techniques supermarkets are playing and you resist them, then you’ll end up buying things that you dont need. How do we know the food system is all mixed up ? Ehrm, see the organisations trying to explain to us that we waste – on average – £430 per year on food that goes to waste. Think of the Scottish Gov and all the Dr’s reports that explain that we are an obese nation and getting worse all the time.
Ok, it’s true that food is expensive and these are easy choices for people with money and cars, but I think we can work systems that help all levels of income. Local co-ops, Welfed, allotments, grow your own, community food schemes, supporting local farmers directly with CSA’s where those that work on the land get discounts ?… there’s lots of options that are open, we just need to make new choices.
There will be a meeting of Nourish Scotland. A local sustainable food supporting network this weekend. see : www.nourishscotland.ning.com and with that we hope to bring a collective support to small producers, retailers and consumers to help expand the other side of the food industry in Scotland.
The norm and not the exception.
About a year ago, I think I could count on one hand the number of people who are actively working on taking action for a more sustainable future. Now, I’m just amazed at the range and diversity of activities going on with almost everyone I meet.
Keeping chickens, eating one less meat meal a week, taking the bus to Edinburgh with kids [brave and patient!], fitting log stoves, planting their first veg plots in the garden, making a compost bin from old pallets, improving cooking skills, learning to prune fruit trees, changing light bulbs, achieving green flags, planting fruit trees, the list goes on and on. and that’s just locally. If I step back and look further across Scotland, I’m following the Black Isle Transition group who are having a local review of energy, and proposing a local food diet, I’m hearing about tree planting in Falkirk, about Greener Glasgow, of buying land at Comrie, about Neilston Dev trust and their ambitions on a whole range of topics. Scotland is alive and kicking with active communities. Both rural and urban. Go google for the Shandon food project in Edinburgh, or the Dunbar bakery project. Part of wants to move to North Howe in fife with their touring pub, which sounds a great idea, but then I look back at Linlithgow and I’m just amazed at the local activities in Slow Food, in Cittaslow, in the early seeds of Aspires, of schools draped in green flags, and kids all participating in a positive environment.
2010 will be a great year for Linlithgow, for Scotland, and for embracing change and being confident that it is better. Hey – after a financial mess, banker bonuses, MP’s expense scandals, etc can it get any worse ?