We’ve been chuntering on about eating local food, sourcing sustainable ingredients etc for years now, so I thought it might be a good time to explain why I think this is such a big deal. All the food that comes out of East Cliff Kitchen (including our brunch club this weekend!) is sourced as locally as possible for a whole load of reasons – some proper science-y ones and some which are a bit more poetic so I’m going to try to cover both.
I am really fascinated by place/location – it’s been a bit of a thing for me since I studied architecture (careful, if you let me go on about this stuff for too long, I’ll start dusting off my De Certeau and Walter Benjamin texts and forget all about the food!). I’ll try to tell you why. Space is one thing – in fact it’s everything, and having enough of it for ourselves is intensely political – but PLACE… place is how we define the space that IS ours or that relates to us – to our bodies, to our histories. And location is how places relate to other places and that is community…. But location is also about locale and localness – the understanding of the characteristics of a place and it’s heritage, it’s special significance. Now this is not to say that we should get all patriotic and inward-looking, because there are other places too that are just as special and are connected to ours in multiple ways – but here we are now, in whichever place we are in and we should connect to that, celebrate it and really examine it.
Now before I lose you, let me tie this back to food. Buying, growing, foraging and eating local food is so important because it is a fundamental statement and celebration of PLACE. You, dear reader, might be anywhere in the world, but we are in Kent – the so-called ‘Garden of England’. Specifically we are in East Cliff, an area of Folkestone. We have the sea to the south of us, the white cliffs to the east and glorious countryside (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty no less!) to the north.
Stuff grows here that doesn’t grow anywhere else (I defy you to bring me a more delicious whelk or a more peppery alexander seed!), people have farmed and fished and cooked here for centuries – the knowledge of what is good (both in terms of deliciousness and health) is embedded in the rocks, so why go to Tesco?
And if that doesn’t convince you, here are some real proper bona fide science-y reasons:
- local food is fresher and fresh food tastes better because it is still clinging on to its nutrients, so it’s better for you too – Farms who sell locally often allow fruits and veg to ripen longer on branches etc rather than picking them early because there is no concern about them spoiling during transit
- You’ll generally find less packaging on non-supermarket foods
- Fewer food miles = lower environmental impact (fewer vehicle emissions etc)
- Supporting local farming/food production preserves green space & countryside, which is, you know, nice for walking and stuff. Also it has been proven that being surrounded by greater biodiversity leads to better mental health.
- Supporting local smaller producers means you get better variety (more heritage varieties, more flavours) because they are under less pressure to churn our vast quantities of identical products for large scale distribution. This means historic varieties of fruit and veg and rare breeds animals can be preserved.
- Being engaged – You can meet the people who grow/rear/make your food – and the food becomes more enjoyable just by knowing the care that went into producing it. Not only that, but you can give feedback so that the producers can work with the community to supply the stuff people want.
- This communication with suppliers gives us amazing knowledge of the processes that go into food production and supply which puts us, as consumers, into far stronger positions to make decisions about what we put into our bodies and the effect that this has on the environment.
- It is an incredibly valuable act to decide to support your local community and economy. It doesn’t mean you can’t leave the county ever again or that you shouldn’t enjoy food and drink from elsewhere too, but when an economy builds strength from within it attracts investment from without – so every pound you spend locally is actually worth double its value to the community as a whole.
- This is less science, more just my experience. Shopping locally saves money. Buying seasonal food is the most cost-effective way to shop because it is the easiest way for the farmers to operate. Buying from as close to the source as possible reduces the effort/packaging that the supplier has to make to get your food to you – save them time/money and saving will undoubtedly be passed on. We’ve always found that there is misconception that farmers markets and small-scale shops are really expensive – some things are pricey (usually because they are really high quality or produced in tiny batches) but seasonal fruit and veg, fish and meat is generally much better value locally than in a supermarket.
WHERE TO BUY SUPER-LOCAL AND DELICIOUS FOOD IN/NEAR FOLKESTONE:
Well first of all, did we mention you can try lots of local food at one of our pop-ups! 😉 More info here.
Folkestone Food Assembly (we especially love Walmestone Growers’ spray-free veg but it’s all good)
Roots ‘N’ Fruits (Fruit, veg, spices)
Folkestone Trawlers (always ask what is local and whether it has been frozen)
Dockers Brewery and Bakehouse (the exceptional bread is sold at Folkestone Wholefoods)
Griggs of Hythe (Fishmongers)
Nethergong Nurseries – deliver amazing veg boxes once a week, such good value and an amazing range.