Food should also never, NEVER be wasted or thrown away. Is it any wonder that while there are some countries where people regularly cook or buy more food than they need and throw away what's left, there are other countries where people struggle to find enough food to stay alive? We should all value what we eat properly, and never waste this valuable resource.
From a purely selfish food-lovers point of view, you're likely to find some of the best tasting meats, cheeses and vegetables from local farmers markets. You can also chat to the stall-holders to find out more about how the food is produced.
For more information on farmers markets in the UK, or to find out if there is a market near you, visit www.farmersmarkets.net.
Farmers' Markets and local producers are also one of the best ways to find meat from rare breeds of animals. When I discovered this rare breeds meat just a few years ago it was a revelation to me! The taste is wonderful, and the superb eating qualities of the meat are a direct consequence of the animal breeds and the way that they are raised.
The animals are chosen for the superior taste of their meat, and definitely not for their ability to grow rapidly when pumped full of antibiotics and growth promoters, which sadly has become the normal method of producing much of the meat in our shops.
The rare breed animals are slower to grow, resulting in a much better taste in the meat. You will also nearly always find that rare breed producers treat their animals with the respect they deserve, with a free-range outdoor lifestyle, and good-quality feed that is free of antibiotics and growth promoters. Again, the way the animals are reared is directly reflected in the quality and taste of the meat.
But don't take my word for it, try some rare breeds meat for yourself! Look out for it at Farmers' Markets and good butchers shops. For more information visit the Rare Breeds Survival Trust webpage.
... and remember, by buying rare breeds meat you are actually helping to conserve these animals.
Look out for them at farmers markets and food festivals in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area.
I have to admit to a particular interest in their sausage making, as the citrus, pork and red wine sausage that won the UK Diamond Award in the year 2000 came about from a recipe entered by myself and my wife in a competition run by Malvern Country Meals!
Their pigs are raised without the use of antibiotics and growth promoters, and enjoy a healthy outdoors lifestyle. The results of this are clear in the wonderful meat that they sell - some of the best pork I have ever tasted. Look out for them at farmers markets in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area.
Ian Mellis' Cheese Shops can be found at 30 Victoria Street in Edinburgh city centre, and also on Morningside Road.
Makers of delicous Wensleydale cheese: their standard "fresh" Wensleydale is aged only for a short period of time, and has a fresh, slightly tangy taste and crumbly texture. The versions that are matured for longer (mature or special reserve) have a stronger, more savoury taste and are highly recommended. They also make a very nice ewes milk cheese, as well as a range of cheeses with added flavours such as garlic and chives, onions, blueberries etc.
Their visitor centre in Hawes is well worth a visit. You can see the cheese being made, and also taste samples from their complete range in the shop.
The Staff of Life bakery is based in Kendal, Cumbria. They make the most amazing flapjacks as well as delicous bread, chocolate brownies that have to be tasted to believed and other goodies such as sticky gingerbread. It's becoming increasingly hard to find bakers that still make real bread - bread with good, simple ingredients that looks and tastes as bread should. This is one of those places, well worth seeking out if you are near Kendal.
|Fraoch is a wonderful beer made using heather flowers. The brewing of heather ale in Scotland can be traced back for several thousand years, though the practice was forbidden by laws imposed in 1707 as Scotland became part of the United Kingdom. Thankfully, the tradition did not die out completely and this delicous beer is now being produced near Glasgow and can be found in off-licenses and supermarkets throughout the UK. A great balance of sweet, floral tastes with a rich, full bodied character. Try it!
|Shropshire Lad is a great-tasting, cask-conditioned beer made by The Wood Brewery using traditional methods. Look out for this one in pubs and shops around the UK, or visit The Plough Inn which is situated next door to the brewery!
|The Black Sheep brewery in Yorkshire produces a range of fine beers. Personal favourites are their Black Sheep Ale and "Emmerdale" beer. Their visitor centre in Masham is also well worth a visit, not only to see how the beer is made, but also for the superb food (and beer, of course) available from the bistro. You can also stock up on bottled beer, T-shirts etc from their "Sheepy Shop". See the Black Sheep website for more details.
|I recently discovered some of the truly superb beers made by the Keswick Brewery. Their beers are mainly available at pubs and shops in the Cumbria area, but for anyone living or visiting there I can strongly recommend they give them a go. The beers are truly amazing: well-balanced, generally lighter golden ales with a zesty/citrus/floral note. The "Thirst Rescue" beer was my particular favourite, an awesome product. See the excellent Keswick Brewery website for more details.
Last updated March 2011
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