Hairy Biker Si King on his New Year's food resolution - supporting local artisan producers
PUBLISHED: 13:25 03 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:29 20 February 2013
Join our new columnist, Si King in making a new year's resolution that's good for you, your community and the planet
Lets make this the year we all make a real difference. We can do it, we just need to start thinking differently about the food we buy and eat. If enough of us start to get serious about buying local and supporting local producers we can help put the region back on its feet.
The whole reason for supporting local artisan producers is that by doing it you are supporting the local economy. But by buying local, seasonal produce you are also buying into a level of quality that food is the best it can possibly be at the time of year.
So you get good food, the producer gets a sale and you make a connection with someone in your community. And it brings you closer to the natural world.
My mam always made a flat rib broth. Its beautiful but I remember when I was 12 or 13 asking her why we only had it in the autumn. She explained that that was when the animal was at its best, when it started to bulk out for the winter.
I remember being impressed that she knew that that cut of meat was available all the time but that was why we only had it then. That generation has that knowledge but its being lost because everythings available all year round now.
Parsnips, and all other root veg, are better after the first frost because the cold intensifies the sugars I just love all that kind of thing and thats what its about: connecting people with their food and their communities and the planet and sharing that knowledge of food.
My great-grandma had a small holding and my mam got the runt of the litter of pigs to wean. They knew how to butcher it how to make bacon and they had a salt box and they knew what they were doing. Not everyone knew how to do that, obviously, but there was much more of that knowledge about then and I think we need to go back to basics a bit.
We are all pushed for time and Im not knocking supermarkets at all, far from it, but everything is available there all the time.
I understand that people need to make a profit Dave and I want to sell our cook books after all but the issue is not about that, its about having a knowledge of great food. It is getting better, but we are nowhere near where we were even 30 years ago.
The frustrating thing is that food has become slightly elitist here theres a big difference between us in this country and people on the continent. I can pull into a truck stop in Italy and see truck drivers eating wonderful pastas and cheeses but I cant see that here. Its because they have grown up with it and we need to get back to that.
What I really want to see and maybe Im being Utopian and naive here is regional centres where people can come together and find fresh local food and support their local community and the people they know; markets really.
The Grainger Market is doing well for people who can get to it. But the frustration is that these markets are not always easy to get to youve got to go out of your way to find them sometimes and if you cant drive out to a farm shop or farmers market, it gets difficult.
Of course, there are groups doing their best to raise the profile of regional food and artisan producers and that is laudable and all power to them.
But I want there to be somewhere affordable for artisan producers to sell their wares. Maybe we need other funding but it is something thats possible, you see it on the continent and the only differences are that you get slightly better weather further south and they have legislation there to help producers.
Its about providing a service to the community, not about making a massive profit. The power of the accountant has been left unchecked for too long and thats wrong, theres more to a society than money theres care, compassion, love, interaction and communication but all these things seem to have lost value.
All emotions revolve somehow around food and until we realise that we wont be able to shift the focus away from the accountant and on to the all the great things that make us tick.
This month Si will be:
Visiting his sister in Tuscany. Ive got this Italian grandfather hes not a blood relative, but as good as and he produces absolutely unbelievable olive oils and wines. Theyre in my sisters house now and I dont trust her not to drink it, so Im going to get it. Im making a 2000 mile round trip to get some wine!
Eating game. Im looking at using partridge, pheasant and venison and all those great winter flavours of root veg, sloe gin and chocolate stout.
The print version of this article appeared in the January 2012 issue of North East Life
We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here