The delight and importance of buying local handcrafted food
When I was a child of about 8 or 9, I was friends with a little boy called Steven who lived just up the road.
I was exactly 1 day older than him, we went to the same school and we spent a lot of time together playing outdoors and generally annoying his older brother and friends, who didn’t want a couple of little kids hanging around with them.
So what does this have to do with handmade food you may ask?
Well, one of our favourite summer holiday activities was to organise a neighbourhood fete and give the proceeds to charity. We would go door to door asking our kindly and tolerant neighbours for any old things they didn’t want or for something they could contribute for us to sell or use on a stall.
Along with the jumble of unwanted clothes and bric-a-brac, we were often given home grown potted plants, fruit and veg and an array of homemade delicacies from cakes, fudge, honey and preserves to the infamous bottles of pea-pod wine donated by old Mr Pople.
Cakes and fudge aside, at that young age we didn’t really appreciate the quality and care that went into creating those slightly sticky handcrafted jars and bottles.
This was the 70’s, before convenience food and mass production changed the way we eat and shop and a dehydrated Vesta Curry was the closest thing you could get to a ready meal.
Rediscovering the joy of handmade
Sadly the decades to follow turned its back on handcrafted produce and tended to look down its nose at handmade. It was all about convenience food and quantity over quality for the cheapest possible price.
It’s not surprising that eventually many of us learned some valuable lessons from the fast, cheap and easy food culture which now reigns supreme.
It’s not just the foodies that are championing locally produced artisan produce today.
It’s the mothers wanting the best ingredients they can afford for their family.
It’s the shoppers with a concern for sustainability and supporting their local community and the UK economy.
Handcrafted vs mass produced
It takes time, skill and care to produce quality products that taste so great.
Handcrafted artisan food producers, care about their reputation within their local community and they tend to source sustainable ingredients from nearby suppliers they know and trust.
You cannot compare handmade food with that of the large corporations – there is no comparison. It’s not sold in the same way and we don’t buy it in the same way.
It’s impossible to compare a jar of mass-produced piccalilli with one that’s homemade using locally grown vegetables, presented in a recycled jar and individually labelled.
We’ve lost many of our independent food shops from our high streets. Our local greengrocer, butcher and baker are no longer able to compete with the giant superstores.
Hidden costs we end up paying
By giving all our spending power to the big boys, we’ve allowed them to squeeze our own farmers in the UK. Producers are forced to work for little return or worse still, they are put out of business altogether.
It’s also becoming apparent that the cheap price you pay for a mass produced item often using imported raw materials or extremely cheap labour from abroad, will cost us more further down the line.
So what is so special about buying handmade local food?
- Buying handmade supports local artisan industries and people, wherever you buy it.
- There are no hidden costs. The revenue stays within the country and people are working for themselves or for a small independent business.
- Taxes are paid, money is generated and the overall impact on our economy is huge.
- You are helping to ensure traditional skills are kept alive and creating a demand for learning these skills.
- Handmade food is about the person who creates it, not the machines that turn it out.
- It’s about the time and effort that goes into each mouthful and the skill of each producer.
- I know I’m not preaching to the unconverted because if you’re reading this you already appreciate and value good food.
- With Christmas coming up, go out to your local farmers market and craft fairs, stock up on the wonderful selection of goodies on offer and introduce your friends and family to your delicious new discoveries.
Let’s support our local artisan heroes and spread the word.
In fact if you would like to spoil your favourite foodie this Christmas, browse our unique gourmet food gifts and hampers.