Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Sourcing good fresh produce

Remember this post?

The Food Barn in Willian has long been one of my favourite places for buying local produce and fresh fish. Imagine my shock, therefore when looking for a source of salt marsh lamb I found a notice on the website announcing the closure of the Food Barn.

It's becoming more and more difficult to get fresh produce, particularly meat, now that supermarkets have given more chill counters over to ready-prepared and pre-packed products. Even Morrisons wastes its butchers' skills by buying in ready-trimmed meat, putting more and more 'added value' (tampered-with) packs on their fresh counters, and reducing the size of the counter at which the butcher can cut joints, steaks, and chops to the size I need for the planned meals.

There is a very good butcher in Hitchin (Allingham Bros) who supplies game as well. The other 'local' butcher is in a neighbouring town. Chapman's supplies excellent free-range pork but, according to the product list, no salt marsh lamb. The Food Barn's supplier of local meat is Letchworth Garden City Farm. As far as I know, being on the edge of the Chilterns, which is chalkland, we have no salt marshland where the sheep are grazed.

The closure of The Food barn means that we have to look further afield for the sort of produce we want  for our Christmas meals.

We've decided that we're going to try wild boar for Christmas Day. There are some suppliers that are fairly local so we'd be able to collect rather than have it delivered.

MWNN has found the farm from which we bought pork on one of our 'Grand Ring' cruises (which, for us, was a 5-week cruise beginning and ending on The Middle Levels in the Cambridgeshire Fens and had the addition of the River Nene and 'Northampton Arm' of The Grand Union Canal) in the late 1990s. We were introduced to the mother of the sausages we bought, which are just about the best sausages ever. We might also buy a ham for Boxing Day.

MWNN has also found an online supplier of smoked produce. We usually eat fish on Christmas Eve, so I think  smoked eel is probably already on order.I don't like smoked fish but I do like smoked duck which is also one of the products on offer.

So, the search is on for another good food supplier in the local area. A strong contender, and one that is only about 20 minutes drive from home, is Church Farm, They have a delivery or 'drop off point' option on boxes of vegetables and meat. The prices  compares favourably with supermarket prices and with the well known Abel and Cole.