A request from Sally’s brother, Rob, prompted a call to Martin at Carey Organics this morning. Rob found he was in need of a piece of pork loin for a meal he is cooking for friends after Christmas. We happen to know that Martin supplies the most excellent pork you can imagine.
This summer and autumn he has been fattening up a few Oxford & Sandy Blacks, and feeding them on the surplus of his organic fruit and vegetable production. These pigs have been so pampered – everything from green vegetables to the juiciest organic strawberries! Anyway, take it from us, the pork is delicious. So we called Martin.
We discussed what he had available and how Rob might want to cook the loin, finally agreeing on a suitable piece. It was then a question of when to pick it up, as Rob is going to be here on Christmas Eve before going home to Pembridge on Christmas Day.
“Wow! Export!” said Martin, as soon as he heard that his pork was going to the other side of Hereford.
A throwaway humorous comment, I’ll grant you. But it is also interesting that, once we go down the ‘local’ route, distance becomes an issue. Here in Herefordshire, we are very lucky to find that we have a superb choice of produce available to us, but in terms of Aspen House, we also find that we tend to work within a very small radius in sourcing our produce. The only time we buy any local produce from outside a 10-mile radius is when that produce is brought into the Farmers Market in Hereford. Thus we buy Mr Tudge’s sausages, but we probably would have to find an alternative supplier if buying from Mr Tudge meant travelling right up to his home patch on the North Herefordshire border.
It seems that this has all happened quite naturally. Although we admit to subscribing to a ‘green’ ethos, it is not the cold calculation of personal food miles that has kept us within a 10-mile radius – it just feels right. We know of quite a few wonderful suppliers up in Shropshire, for example, but unless they come to Hereford to sell their wares, we are unlikely to buy from them.
On a much bigger scale, of course, it has become obvious to us that if everyone were to adopt a ‘buy local’ stance, this is what would happen – people naturally limiting their buying to within a small area. No doubt this is much as it used to be before corporate greed starved out the thousands of small producers, growers and retailers that used to keep pace with local demand. It is also obvious that it wouldn’t take too much to stimulate this kind of local thinking when there is so much well-founded fear out there about the poor quality of food being supplied by the giant retailers.
So my Christmas wish is that enough of a build-up of new positive energy accumulates to trip the switch and reverse the flow away from the avaricious supermarkets and back to the small local suppliers. Even though there would be problems of transition from one state to the other, it will be worth riding this out, because we will end up retrieving a lost world – a world in which people and places matter more than the shareholder’s dividend.