It’s with great excitement that I launch this column all about local food, at the start of Lancaster’s first Local Food Month. I hope for this space to reveal the faces and stories behind Lancaster’s food scene, and to keep you up-to-date on what’s going on.
October will be packed full of free ‘foodie’ events, coordinated by Transition City Lancaster. Thanks to the range of community groups involved, a wide variety of activities are on offer. Foraging walks, farm visits, shared ‘pot luck’ meals, workshops, talks and debates are just some of what’s in store. The full programme can be found on Transition City Lancaster’s website and Facebook page.
Several new projects are nearing their launch dates, including Incredible Edible Lancaster’s Heritage Seed Library (in Lancaster Library), which will enable gardeners and growers to swap seeds and try new varieties of fruit and vegetables. LESS is embarking on a project called ‘Growing Our Local Food Economy’ to reconnect people with where their food comes from, and make it easier to buy local produce. And there are moves afoot to set up a ‘Food Assembly’ and an ‘Abundance Project’ in Lancaster.
So why is local food important? There are many environmental benefits of growing food close to where it is eaten, including reducing the number of planes and lorries clocking up food miles. Local fruit and veg also tend to be fresher, tastier and more nutritious because it hasn’t spent so long in transit. Varieties grown abroad for export may be chosen because they ripen at a particular time and store and travel well, but that can often be at the expense of your taste buds (think watery tomatoes and powdery apples…)
Perhaps most importantly, buying local produce keeps lots of local farmers and shopkeepers in business, rather than handing even more wealth and power to a few big global supermarkets.
Over the next few months I’ll be talking to local producers, community growers and shoppers, and writing about how we can support each other to help create a more resilient local food system.
Your thoughts and feedback are very welcome!