The end of the week of eating local.....................it was an interesting sort-of-challenge to do.
I ate more bread and eggs than normal and as the only local fruit was apples they got a bit boring........ eaten as snacks as well as part of a meal. There should have been local pears at the farm shop but their supplier had had a very poor crop....and had sold out in October.
Some local food is easy to find thanks to the East of England Co-op and their Locally Produced shelves. My nearest Co-op is in Debenham 4 miles from me.
Meat - Easy from Co-op or Farm shop and many local butchers who sell meat from local farmers. I've always bought local sausages/bacon from the Co-op anyway. The Hog and Hen have their own whole chickens..........Very expensive. I eat very little meat by choice.
Honey - Easy as I had local in the cupboard and when that runs out there are several places I know to buy more.
Jams and Chutneys- There are many local companies that produce jams, chutney, mustard, mayonnaise and sauces. Stokes of Rendlesham is one. Co-op stock them. I don't need to buy jams etc as I make my own and make sure to only buy Silver Spoon sugar and vinegar for the chutneys could be local as Aspall produce that too.
Eggs - Very Easy. On my way to swimming I pass two farm gate sales for eggs at £1 for half-dozen. Another place on my way to Stowmarket has just finished selling due to theft. There are two houses in the village that sometimes have eggs outside but not always so I can't rely on them.
Flour - Easy to buy Marriages who are based in Chelmsford Essex, it's sold at the Co-op. The mill in Pakenham, in West Suffolk, sells flour ground at the mill too. Another place I completely forgot about was Maple Farm at Kelsale, close to where we were at the smallholding.
Butter, Cheese, Milk and Cream - Easy where I live - all from one farm Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, the place we visited with WI, BUT if they were to stop it would be impossible to buy these locally. I made the most of the butter which was delicious, spreading it very thin and made sure to use every crumb of cheese sparingly.
A small milk producer...... Marybelle from north Suffolk have just been closed down by their Belgian owners. As far as I know local dairy farmers - and there are very few now - sell to one of huge milk companies like Arla, dealing with farmers across north Europe.
(In research I came across Fen Farm Dairy near Bungay in Suffolk who do direct deliveries - at a price. 600g of butter and 750g of cheese would be £46 delivered!!)
Fruit - Only apples. Earlier in the year I might have got plums and pears and of course raspberries and strawberries in summer. Once there were more than 10 pick your own fruit farms across Suffolk. I'm not sure if any remain.
The Hog and Hen farm shop had some local Autumn raspberries at £2.89 for a small punnet -much too expensive.
I didn't have enough of any fruit of my own to freeze this year but did make jam from BiL's strawberries.
Vegetables - Difficult. There's a company called Suffolk Produce Ltd who are a cooperative of lots of farms in East Suffolk but they only sell to supermarkets. No wonder we were always able to sell everything we had on the stall at the smallholding. I rarely come across anyone selling from the gate around here - a few apples maybe and that's it. Of course earlier in the year I would have much more of my own stuff.
I've got my own red peppers in the freezer and leeks in the ground. My potatoes have nearly all been eaten. Now I know what I can manage on my own I may well put some Brussels-sprout plants in next year.
Other things that I could have bought
Co-op stock Fairfields Farm Potatoes, potato crisps and other snacks. They are based on the Suffolk/Essex boundary near Colchester. I've not tried them.
A local bakery in Haughley (8 miles from me and celebrating 150 years of baking) has shops where they sell their own bread, biscuits and cakes so I could have bought from them easily.
The main non-local item used was yeast for my bread, plus things like curry powder.
Of course I still have most of the flour left to use and the rapeseed oil and virtually all the tomato sauce. There are 2 portions of curry in the freezer and one pack of sausages (as they were BOGOF). 2 more cold sausages for sandwiches, and look how red the local Tiptree tomato sauce is.
I enjoyed finding out more about local produce and trying things I might not have done otherwise. I may well buy some of the local butter for Christmas and the Marriages seeded and wholegrain flour makes bread that's much more interesting than my normal white bread flour, but I was very glad to go out and buy pears to make a change from the apples!