Last weekend I visited Haslemere's farmers market for the first time.
I'm a big believer in both shopping locally and eating food produced locally. Farmer's markets are a great way of combining the two!
There are loads of reasons for shopping and eating locally. These are mine:
The main reason for my shopping locally is to support and get to know my local community. Plain and simple. I can't tell you how much I enjoy getting to know my neighbours; the people who live and work nearby. It makes a walk into town so lovely, when you can stop and chat to people you know!
Smaller shops are much more interested in looking after their customers and stocking products that they want and need. Smaller, specialist shops are also able to stock a much wider variety of products giving you, the customer, much more choice.
Shopping in a small, specialist shop, where the shop assistant is passionate and knowledgeable about their stock, is a much more pleasant shopping experience than being pushed and shoved around supermarket aisles by miserable fellow shoppers, made to queue for ten minutes plus, and being served by a completely disinterested teenager.
Local businesses give so much more back into the community - not only financially (although lots of money is reinvested locally too and that is a major bonus of shopping locally) - but they bring people together too.
Ultimately, shopping local is essential for preserving local character. If we don't, and we continue to shop at the massive superstores that are springing up left, right and centre, then our high streets are going to disappear altogether. I can't bear that thought.
Eating locally produced food is equally important to me. By buying food from local farmers, you know where it has come from; farmers markets are a great place to get to know farmers and ask them any questions you may have.
Local food is also fresher and heaps better for the environment as it doesn't have to travel hundreds of miles over two, three - or more! - days to get to you. Greengrocers and market stalls don't use the ridiculous amounts of packaging that supermarkets do either.
Buying and eating local food supports the community and provides jobs - both for farmers and for the shops selling the produce.
Local food is seasonal food. Another passion of mine. Strawberries grown in December will most definitely not be British strawberries, and they are not such a delicious treat when you can get them all year round.
I think it is atrocious the way supermarkets are forcing farmers to sell their produce to them at ridiculously low prices. They are effectively blackmailing them - sell to us at this price or don't sell them at all! I have no objections to paying a premium for premium produce! The reason there is so much food waste at the moment is because people don't mind throwing cheap food away - plus it doesn't taste as nice so they are more likely to! See my post on ways to save food waste here.
Even better than buying local food is growing your own. You can't get much more local than that! There is nothing quite like eating a dinner made from vegetables that you've grown in your own back garden or allotment. Really.
At the farmer's market this week I bought fresh bread and meat - and also some wonderful jam and chutneys from Fruity Foods, just up the road in Church Crookham, Hampshire and some porridge oats from Haslemere's very own Imbhams Farm Granary!
Haslemere Farmers Market is held on the first Sunday of every month on the High Street. If you live locally and haven't been before, you definitely should xoxox