The idea of ‘local’ and ‘local produce’ has been in the back of my mind for some time. Being encouraged by the media to shop local and buy local, has only really come to the fore since the dreaded recession hit.
My idea for this post was borne out of my visit to Tipperary last weekend. I live in a county where there are food producers, but, unfortunately there are only a handful. I thought the people in Tipperary were so lucky to have lots of producers on their doorsteps.
I mulled over the idea after we got home, so I asked Twitter Friends for their opinion on a question which was going around and around in my head: “What does the word ‘local’ mean to you, in terms of ‘local produce’?
I received a few answers, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed at the lack of response. Perhaps people didn’t see the question, or were not on Twitter at the time. Whatever it was, I was still a little perplexed at the small amount of responses.
Some of those people who took the time to reply made the following comments:
Richard Speedie said “I’ve seen a restaurant define it as European!! For me, it’s the whole island of Ireland since we’re a pretty small country”
Patricia said: “To me it’s anywhere within a ten mile radious of where I live!!”
Susan said: “Local to me used to mean Dublin (where I is at) but definitely since recession it means Irish as a whole – strange that:/
Macconraoi said “I am NOT a foodie, I hate the term. Local means nothing. Artisan means less. All trust is lost in the real world”
Ann Marie said “Local to me is that the cows in the field next to me end up in the buchers in the next village where I buy my meat”
All of the above comments are valid ones, with the exception of the European one. That, I think, was stretching it!
I buy from a Fishmonger whose fish comes up from the quay a few hundred yards from their shop.
I called there the other day, and they were delighted to show me the what was on offer, and happy for me to take photographs.
I buy vegetables from a family who are located a couple of miles from where we live. Their shop is on their property, and you can see what is being grown in the field next door. I buy meat from a butcher, who gets his supplies from neighbouring farms.
So, back to the question, what exactly is ‘local’? I have come to the conclusion that the word lost its meaning, as it can be relative to you, where ever you are, at any given time, if that makes sense.
My own opinion is that the word is bandied about to mean lots of other things too. The perception of local is important too, as is a whole variety of other words used in relation to food products. Here are some of them : Homegrown – Homemade – Freshly Cooked – Artisan – Gourmet. All fine in in their own right, but my other problem with these words is homegrown by whom and where, homemade by whom and where, all food should be freshly cooked, and as for artisan, this is a person who makes something. As a consumer, these words seem to imply an added value where there is really none, and it is down to us to decide if we believe it or not.
The over-riding thought is provenance. I feel that not enough consumers are asking where exactly the food is coming from. Having said that, there are those who do, which is a real beginning. Local can mean the country in which you live, the county in which you live, how far you are willing to travel to find such food.
This whole subject has many, many layers, as I have discovered, and doesn’t stop at the meaning of words.
My thanks to those contributors who gave permission for their comments to be used in this post.
This post was a out of the norm for me, they are my own thoughts as a consumer. I am certainly not Journalist (can you tell!) nor am I a person with an agenda. I simply like to ask questions. As someone once said to me “If you ask, you will get one of two answers”