A Vote for Good Food!

Food is emotive. Food is political. Food is convivial. Food brings back fond memories of holidays, family, celebrations. Yet sadly food can also have negative connotations: horsemeat scandal, factory chickens, intensively reared pigs, cattle feedlots and a general malaise in terms of a fractured food system. As folk become increasingly distanced from the rural economy, knowledge decreases along with an awareness of the sheer effort that goes into good food production.

This year alone Scotland has three less cheesemakers in an already small community and there are other producers I know of who are imminently closing too. We all wish for a Smart Successful Scotland and I for one am devoted to our nation, yet as we strive for that Good Food Nation we have supermarket logos in education in schools, restaurant chains whose profits go straight down south and, I am sorry to say, I see a fair bit of ‘embroidery’ on some menus! Artisan, hand made, freshly baked and seasonal put bums on seats and sell products off shelves yet the genuine article – producers, farmers and chefs – such as ones you see vetted and endorsed on Scottish Food Guide, have to charge more as their costs are higher, have no opportunity for bulk discounting and good food takes time to prepare.  Yes the authorities could learn to use a lighter touch on small producers when the rules that apply to small and giant seem so at odds at times. Hopefully this will improve. But it is more than that.

Mainland Europe is not wealthier than us but they are prepared to spend a larger % of their income on good food for themselves and their families. This is a sad indictment of a culinary snapshot of Scotland. We say it is getting better. We say we now have a café culture and thriving artisan food and hot chefs. But this is still not the norm and it is in danger of diminishing again as some tighten belts and cut corners, reformulate and develop foods to find cheaper versions and treat our true artisan producers with disdain. Sadly there are well known chefs out there who demand precious free samples of fabulous products then do not even bother to respond with feedback let alone place orders. I could name names! Thankfully they are not Scottish Food Guide members, nor would they be!

Scottish Food Guide will not be infallible nor is it comprehensive. It is a journey, always being reviewed, always finding places – sometimes deleting places too. I try harder every day and believe in my endeavors and hope you do too. It is a joy when I see Food Tourism working in some amazing places across Scotland: farm shops and cook schools, hunting estates and rural cafés, dairies and berry picking. I welcome new Members and recommendations and passionately believe in our food and farming sector. We have such wonderful raw materials to work with, such skills and fabulous family farms doing great work. We have great potential to do so much more: take a step back to move forward; switch from larger operations to smaller traditional sustainable models; feed grass, traditional silage or hay to our herbivores and consider the breeds we rear. We should eat less highly processed foods and create simpler healthy meals with seasonal produce in schools where they learn of their local food production and how to cook…I could go on…and on….!

November is Thank a Farmer Month says Slow Food. The true heroes are the small scale producers and farmers who produce food in a way that respects people, animals and our planet.

 I have said it umpteen times at meetings and on radio and shall say it again. Eating locally and sustainably is not expensive however you do need to know how to cook, use everything to maximize your efforts, reduce your waste and follow the seasons. Slow Food says good, clean and fair: good quality; clean for our planet and fair price for producers. As co-producers/ consumers, you would do well to follow these principles so I urge you to support your local food producers in your community, keep the money in your community and thrive in good health and well being. Thank you.

Members’ News….

Free Delivery Offer with Demijohn until Sunday. They are offering free* UK Mainland delivery right now on any order over £20, saving you £5.95. So if you need to stock up for a Halloween party or are ready to order some early Christmas presents, please make the best use of this offer and place your order now. *This offer ends Sun 4 Nov 2018, normal delivery terms apply. https://www.demijohn.co.uk

Craigie’s festive shop is now open and full to the brim of fantastic decorations! Online ordering is open plus a Christmas brochure to pick one up next time you’re in. I shall get one tomorrow when shopping at their ace cheese counter! https://craigies.co.uk

Whitmuir has gone onto winter opening to chime with the change of the clocks and darker evenings – one hour earlier on weekdays. Café hours will be 10-4pm on Mon- Frid, but 10-5 on Sat and Sun.  Shop will be open everyday from 10-5pm as normal. Lots of events and festive news so check out their link. You fabulous local organic farmshop and so much more. https://www.whitmuir.scot

Macbeths are taking pre-orders for Six Week Hung Beef for Christmas.  It has been growing in popularity over the years and makes for an ideal Christmas Treat. The Rib Roast is especially popular! https://www.macbeths.com

At this time of year Walkers really does bring their customers the best festive shortbread range around… there is no better time to enjoy delicious pure butter shortbread, festive pies and other Scottish delicacies. https://www.walkersshortbread.com/uk/

Knockinaam Lodge Wedding by Marc Millar Wedding Photography

Spend a traditional Christmas at Knockinaam Lodge with open fires, fantastic food and great company. Take time to unwind and discover the magic of Christmases gone by. Looking forward to visiting here soon. https://www.knockinaamlodge.com