- Lifetyle

Why there’s never been a better time to support our farmers and fishermen

Fat red tomatoes bursting with flavour, delicately sweet hake that just flakes off the bone, and sugar-snap peas that add zing to any stir fry…the best of local produce is available right now.

And there’s never been a better time to support our farmers and fishermen than by buying locally sourced, in-season vegetables and the very freshest of fish from UK waters.

Because by buying local, you won’t just be getting the very best quality food, you’ll also be helping sustain these vital industries at a difficult time.

Lockdown has meant many of their regular customers such as bars, restaurants and hotels have cancelled their usual orders, leaving a mountain of produce that’s at risk of going to waste.

So if you demand food produced locally, you’ll be supporting growers and fishermen when they really need your help.

And if you’ve got time this summer, you can go one step further by actually helping pick the crops yourself!

Packed with goodness
By buying local and seasonal, you’ll be guaranteed to be getting the very best produce packed full of the vitamins, minerals and fibres we need.

June is the beginning of the harvest when the most incredible array of vegetables starts to come in from the fields.

Right now, you should be able to get your hands on locally-grown asparagus, cucumber, mushrooms, salad leaves, courgettes, spinach and beetroot. And don’t forget aubergines, cabbages, carrots, fennel, onions, peas, runner beans and among many others.

There’s so much around, parents can be assured even the pickiest little eater should find something they love.

Farmer Scott Watson of G’s Growers in Feltwell, Norfolk, says there’s already been strong demand for local crops this year because of the good weather.

He says: ‘The UK outdoor salads season is now well under way with lettuce, spring onions and radishes all being harvested on UK farms.

‘Our radish harvest started at the end of April – they always sell well when the sun is out and people get going with BBQs.

‘They’re great value, really low calorie and make a great healthy snack that’s not just beloved of Peter Rabbit.’

Pick for Britain
Another challenge for farmers has been getting enough people to harvest the crops.

Each summer thousands of people usually come in from abroad to help out but can’t this year because of coronavirus.

So a new campaign called ‘Pick For Britain’ has been launched to fill their places.

Anyone who needs work over summer, whether they’re unemployed or students looking to make a bit of money, is being encouraged to apply. So are any furloughed workers whose contracts allow it.

There are plenty of jobs available from pickers and packers to tractor and forklift drivers – you just need to be fit and healthy.

Madeline Owen was doing her A Levels when schools closed and she decided to take a job as a picker: ‘I needed a reason to get out of bed in the morning,’ she says
Stylist Robyn Philip took a job on New Moor Farm in Essex when her work dried up and says: ‘The community is amazing, it’s really quite a lovely place to be.

‘I’m doing a little bit of everything – I’m helping on the [picking] line, bundling, helping customers, grading. Spirits are high and work is constant.’

Co-worker Madeline Owen was doing her A Levels when schools closed. ‘I needed a reason to get out of bed in the morning,’ she says. ‘It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. It’s good fun.’

*Go to pickforbritain.org.uk

Get seafood savvy
The UK is surrounded by waters containing some of the best seafood in the world … and now’s the time to take advantage of it.

Hake, asparagus, Jersey Royal potatoes and peas with mint – a delicious dish of local foods
Currently being caught around our shores are mackerel, herring, rainbow trout, hake, monkfish, crab and mussels to name but a few.

They’re packed full of protein and so good for us, it’s recommended we eat two portions a week, of which one should be oily like mackerel.

For more inspiration on where to find fish caught in UK waters, what’s available and how to cook it, go to fishisthedish.co.uk

Eton Mess
Locally-grown strawberries are at their best right now, so why not try this easy, classic recipe:

Eton Mess is a great way to make the most of locally grown strawberries
6 shop-bought meringues

1lb strawberries

1 rounded tablespoon icing sugar

1-pint double cream


Blend half the strawberries with the icing sugar then pass through a sieve. Chop the rest into pieces.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks and break up the meringues into bite-sized pieces.

Mix all the ingredients together gently – the puree will add a lovely marble effect – and serve immediately.

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