June 19, 2020
Written By Simon Cromack
‘Breakfast of Kings’, has COIVD19 helped our local food & drink entrepreneurs flourish?
Why I hear you ask did I take a photo of my ‘breakfast of kings’ before I knew I was going to write this article about the amazing produce on my plate? I do not have an Instagram account full of plates of food (though there are a few), and clearly my photography skills are extremely average. So, the reason I snapped a quick shot is because myself and a group of friends regularly send each other pictures of different meals and ingredients we are preparing at home via a WhatsApp group called ‘what ya cookin’. The purpose of the group is to see what each of us is up to and take inspiration and learnings to better are own abilities and gain huge amounts of bonus points from our respective other halves and kids. The reality is it’s just a platform for one-upmanship and bragging rights!
Anyway, as I was eating my enormous breakfast; by the way I had just been for a 13 mile run (ok, a 5 mile run), so I was fully within my rights to consume a huge plate of protein and carbs, when it struck me that not only was I eating fantastic produce sold locally, supporting small businesses, but all the items I was consuming are grown, reared and produced within a few miles of my home. Here’s a quick rundown: the sourdough by The San Francisco Baker in East Isley, the sausages and bacon from rare breed pigs, lovingly reared by Jamie Bruce at Ogdown Small Holding in Chieveley and finally free range eggs from Beechwood Farm in Hampstead Norreys. All of this within 10 minutes of my door.
What’s unusual about this you may say, we all love a farm shop and food with a story, so tell me something new. Well as everything I procured is 100% locally made and not just sold locally, I could be confident that I was contributing 100% directly to the local economy within a 3-4 square mile footprint too.
Those who know me, know I’m no economist but what I do know is that generally speaking spending locally generates 5 times the spend in the community.
So now I get to the real purpose of this article, you’ve guessed it, it circles back to the understandably hot topic of COVID19. Have these restrictions placed on us due to C19 given us an unforeseen opportunity to create new habits and long-term behaviours, where we genuinely consider more carefully what we consume, where we procure it, and the journey, process, welfare and ethics behind it all? Lockdown has allowed those of us fortunate enough to live close to or within entrepreneurial communities with emerging innovators in food & drink, time to reflect on the choices we make.
Many of us are currently no longer as time poor as we were within our previously chaotic working lives, and even if we are still clocking up the hours working from home, it seems without the surrounding distractions, we have more time to make informed decisions about things that in the past we did not value as much as we do now.
I believe they say it takes 65 times of doing something to form a habit, well is COVID19 the accidental hero that has allowed us to enjoy the process of rediscovering our relationships with producers and suppliers, at a safe distance of course?
With looming economic devastation on the horizon post C19, we know the best way to start the recovery first and foremost is to stimulate the local economy. Surely this is a momentous, albeit unexpected opportunity to back our local food and drink purveyors as their produce becomes a permanent fixture in our kitchen cupboards, fridges and freezers.
Our appetite for ‘buying locally’ whilst enjoying a more engaging and immersive experience, will I hope become the new norm, and I believe we should do everything we can to convey this message to our neighbours, and anyone else who is prepared to listen to our enthusiastic reasoning.
As support for our food heroes grows, the demand would hopefully establish more favourable pricing for those items that are occasionally perceived as farm shop luxuries.
So having stared at my ‘breakfast of kings’ last Sunday, I realised that on reflection, my new default is to buy locally. I’m looking forward to discovering more great artisanal experiences in future and making sure I have the time in my busy weekly schedule to enjoy this fantastic pastime.
If you have a food or drink business supporting the local community and would like to talk, message me privately on my LinkedIn account, and we can arrange a call.