Saturday, 8 November 2014

Old Macdonald had a farm......but for how long?

Cows chewing on the green stuffOld Macdonald had a farm...but for how long will this be the case for our British milk farmers? 

Milk prices are crashing, Russia has closed its borders to UK food imports and Dairy Crest has sold its loss making milk side of the business to zee Germans. Obviously, der Deutsch menschen are far more efficient than us Brits and have obviously seen something we've missed. Dairy Crest has retained the more profitable cheese (Cathedral City) and spreads (Country Life butter) parts of the business.

How long will it be before there is no longer a 'moo-moo' here and a 'moo-moo' there and a 'moo-moo' everywhere? Britain's landscape would certainly be a poorer place without those familiar 'black and white' beasts chewing on the green stuff. If prices continue to fall we might have to import our milk. The good old British public will have to dig deep and perhaps be waking up to the fact that they should be paying a realistic price for their daily pint of Semi-Skimmed. Ironically, I couldn't find a cow today but, we are in Essex!

Ok, enough of the doom and gloom....Some farmers are showing initiative and turning their farms into farmers markets at the weekend encouraging those high spending foodie types looking to buy local produce. 

Great Garnetts Farmers Market
Great Garnetts Christmas Market
Of course farmers markets have been around for many years but even they are beginning to show signs of reduced footfall with many going by the wayside. As years of near zero inflation and minimal wage increases takes effect on household incomes. However, some remain a good source of income for the farmer and help promote local businesses who work hard to provide some fantastic products that I guarantee you will not find in a superstore.

The likes of Great Garnetts, continues to buck the trend by providing their own hand reared high quality, award winning pork. At this time of year you will find some spectacular bronze turkeys just ready for Christmas, Boxing Day and into the New Year if you buy a monster! Sorry, not long to go guys....yikes!  

If you have not heard of Great Garnetts farmers market you can find out more information on their website by clicking here.

Great Garnetts, Turkey
Gt Garnetts turkeys in the field
The turkey side of the business has flourished since it began in 1971 when fifty farm fresh turkeys were produced for customers. Today several thousand turkeys are produced exclusively for the Christmas market. Before the big day their turkeys enjoy life both outside in the paddock and sleep peacefully at night under protection of the barn.

Fresh local groceries from Rocket and Rhubarb. Kerry and Martin manage a small holding producing a diverse range of fruit and vegetables just outside of Ford End, near Chelmsford. Since 2010 they have been building their business and now deliver their vegetables across Essex to the local community.

Rocket and Rhubarb, groceries, box scheme

I was interested to read on an American website about the 10 things you should NOT buy when visiting a farmers market. Interestingly, clean vegetables, honey and chocolate were on the list!

Magnificent Meringues Wood Cottage Pastries
Magnificent Meringues 
Wood Cottage Pastries
Dark Chocolate Mint Truffles, Wood Cottage Pastries
Handmade Mint Dark Chocolate Truffles 
by Steven Tittle, Wood Cottage Pastries
As always it's good to end on a chocolate high! Steven Tittle, started his pastry chef career in Knightsbridge and in 2010 he set up his dream job as an artisan pastry chef producing a range of pastries, desserts and truffles. These delicate mint dark chocolate truffles were certainly a good choice and at £2.95 for eight handmade truffles an absolute bargain.

Not only are farmers markets good for farmers but also for the people who frequent them. Little did I know today that I would learn about the benefits of wearing silk underwear in the Siberian winter while building an oil pipeline! Who'd have guessed......

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