Whitehaven News - 25 Jan 2007
By Julie Morgan
A SEASCALE farmer has highlighted the miles travelled by supermarket food to encourage more people to shop locally.
Richard Mawson has filled two baskets with everyday foodstuffs — one produced within a 100-mile radius of his farm, the other flown thousands of miles across the globe to be sold in supermarkets.
He is passionate to prove that high-quality, reasonable priced, locally-sourced food is accessible and need not, literally, cost the earth.
“When you think of all the effect it is having on the planet flying in foods thousands of miles away,’’ Richard said. “It makes sense to buy products which are made less than 100 miles away from your home.
“It also helps support small farms and gives back to the local economy.’’ Several smaller shops around Copeland, including Sellafield’s on-site catering, are now stocking and using products within the 100m radius.
Richard also stressed that by buying locally customers know what they are eating such as what pesticides were used, how the animals are treated and can building trusting relationships with farmers.
For the local baskets he was able to source a variety of produce from sweetcorn to sausages and from fish to honey. The price for this basket was £30 compared to approximately £27 for the supermarket hamper.
Richard, along with his parents Ken and Kate and his brother Stephen, have been offering customers milk, cream and butter made on site at their Bailey Ground Farm having installed a new milk bottling plant. They also offer low-fat, pro-biotic smoothies in a variety of flavours.
Previously, the family had sold their milk, which cost them 20p a litre to produce, to a co-op for 17p a litre. “It just wasn’t worth our while,’’ he said. “We have invested heavily in the milking parlour which now means our customers can buy milk which is available from grass to doorstep without leaving the area.’’
Many shoppers are dissuaded from shopping from smaller, local producers because of the perceived higher costs. “I understand that price is important, so I have chosen foods made within that 100m radius, by professional producers, who can grow in bulk, so keeping costs down for the customers,’’ Richard said.
“However, as you can see the home-grown basket isn’t that much more expensive,’’ he added, “And when locally-grown produce, such as vegetables, are in season they will be even cheaper.’’
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