Local produce, what is it and where is local?

Local mapWhen you are dealing with clients from different parts of the county, or even different parts of the country, where should local be classed as?  I like to use products that are manufactured, produced and sold within a reasonable distance from my base in north Cumbria.  I use Lakeland meat where possible, or meat from the smaller producers that are closer to me.  This may bring the price up, but it means that I can offer ingredients that I can trace back to the source and even visit if I feel necessary.

I have spoken to several people recently, and they have all said, “within the county” when asked what they would class as “local”.  This poses a small predicament; I am based in Brampton in Cumbria, and the furthest part of the county is 70 miles away; is this still local?  If I went 70 miles in the other direction, I would be well in to Scotland; is this local?

Local means different things to different people, so maybe instead of just stating “local”, maybe we should be a little more specific.  I use a supplier in Castle Douglas in Scotland, and they are only 60 miles away from me; close enough for me to go to their office and have a cup of coffee and a chat.  To me, they are local, but if I have a client in Barrow-in-Furness, Castle Douglas is not local to them.  So, maybe we should state that the suppliers are local to us, or that they are just smaller producers that provide a fantastic product.

Buying from local suppliers isn’t just a good idea because of traceability, it also makes environmental sense.  The less something must travel from farm to fork, the less pollution is released into the atmosphere.

This only scratches the surface, and is intended to invoke thought and discussion.  There are other questions we should ask ourselves when ordering from our suppliers.  What about Fair trade?  What about sustainability?  Maybe these are questions for another time…

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