London Calling

Personally speaking, my travels to London are sufficiently infrequent to still be fun! My earliest memory is of going to ‘see the sights’ in the 60’s (when still in early primary years I hasten to add!) with my parents driving down in a lemon coloured mini. I believe we ‘did’ Tussauds et al but my ever-lasting memory was happening upon Sonny & Cher being filmed on the lions at Trafalgar Square when ‘Top of the Pops!’ To this day a stroll in London is incomplete without a wander down to that Square – sad to say I haven’t found a vintage clip on U tube (yet!).

Hurlford Primary

Fast forward to late November 2018 and I am in London for the annual meeting of the Soil Association Food For Life Served Here Standards Committee. Back in the pilot days of the formation of FFL, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Robin Gourlay and East Ayrshire Council for several years during the transformation of their school meals throughout the region. Thanks to his determination and belief, to this day East Ayrshire is the trail-blazer for all other school meals and have justly won awards and recognition throughout UK – and quite possibly beyond. In 2005 I had the honour of meeting HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall when they joined pupils for lunch at Hurlford Primary! It was a memorable day.

With so many highly processed foods pumped with unsustainable cheap ingredients, calorie reducing sweeteners that are capable of cocktails we have yet to discover and unhealthy snacking becoming the norm in some homes, we need to get back to family eating, natural ingredients and seasonal cooking with low food miles. FFLSH is about bringing unprocessed fresh foods back into schools and workplaces, local seasonal produce and organic where achievable. I am pleased to contribute and support this programme and a believer in ‘we are what we eat.’ Our industrialised food system has already created a multitude of diet related illnesses with, I believe, far worse to come: damaging our health, both physical and mental, our environment and our local economy. When will they ever learn…?

My meeting was not until later in the day so after my stroll down memory lane past Trafalgar Square I headed to the world-renowned cheese emporium on Jermyn Street, Paxton & Whitfield, where I had arranged to meet their Buyer to discuss what Scotland currently had to offer. What an awesome place! We had a prolonged conversation….two cheese devotees discussing a shared passion… and we agreed to catch up again in the New Year.

Close to Paxton & Whitfield is Fortnum & Mason of course, needing no further introduction. It was a beautiful time of year to explore its Food Halls, brimming with the flavours and scents, displays and colours of Christmas, with no expense spared. I was disappointed there was so little Scottish produce in evidence although it still had its magic.

2018 sadly marks the closure of some exceptional producers for a range of reasons, predominantly not of their making. We have a lot to do to ensure clear and accurate messages are shared on food and nutrition, food sovereignty and traceability; how we use our natural resources and the umpteen benefits of sustainable meat production. We need to value our independent producers and, above all, support them. Sometimes there are those that seek change by being militant and I see collateral damage in the process. I believe far more can be achieved through knowledge and debate, facts and unbiased research, diligence and determination.

Les Dame d’Escoffier at Craigadam, Dumfries & Galloway

As another year closes, with so many setbacks for independent producers and an unsure future for others, it is good to look fondly at some of the happier moments of 2018: Les Dame d’Escoffier Edible Scotland Tours; our congratulations to friends and colleagues who won Awards; the fabulous Food Festivals we collaborated with; our travel to Slow Food Terra Madre as Delegates; the re-designed Scottish Food Guide format and our SFG visits to beautiful regions across Scotland. For me the culmination has to be my Thistle Regional Ambassador Award and I fully intend to be worthy of the title and do my utmost to support independent local producers, chefs and restaurants. 

Congratulations to Hendersons

The final Award for the year was Green Family Business Award to Hendersons at The Herald Scottish Family Business Awards 2018, Founded in 1962 and now in its third generation, Hendersons has become an Edinburgh institution and UK’s longest running Vegetarian restaurant. 

More Members News….

We have a space left on our Scottish Food Guide Pavilion at Gardening Scotland. Please get I touch if you would like to join us. 

Churchill Venison

Churchill Venison would like to thank their team, stalking guests and last but not least their customers for supporting venison sales and enjoying their produce at the festivals and sporting events they attend – for anyone looking venison for healthy dishes for New Year please check out the shop

Contini & Cafe St Honore in action!

Well done to Carina Contini Neil Forbes braving the elements and giving their time at Edinburgh’s Farmers’ Market supporting Slow Food Chef Alliance when all around them must have been full on!!

Edinbane Lodge…still have some spaces left for their Hogmanay celebrations. If you would like to join them, you can book your table by calling on 01470 582 217. The menu looks delicious.

So may we wish you and yours a peaceful Christmas, a fabulous Hogmanay and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

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