Slow Food Blog by Shane Holland: What we really mean by local

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th December 2015
Everything is local to someone. Local, seasonal, artisanal and traditional; just a few of the words no menu is without today. But what do they really mean? What do consumers understand by them, and more to the point what do our suppliers mean by them too? 468953541_e8f3b9120b1-e1351790093782The simple answer is of course they mean everything and nothing – local can mean the nearest 3663 depot, as much as it can mean your nearest farmer growing in rhythm with the landscape. Seasonal likewise is a misnomer – everything is in season somewhere; and what about the use of glasshouses and polytunnels? Do they extend the season or are they producing food which is simply not in season at all, but available now? Artisanal and traditional have a little more concrete to them, artisanal has a dictionary definition of (of a product, especially food or drink) made in a traditional or non-mechanized way which sounds cut and dried till you consider the major supermarkets are all selling “artisan” loaves, using the Chorley Wood process. Then what about traditional? Traditional is a protected word, and according to the FSA is defined as a method of production of 25 years or more. So something about the age of someone in the first CDP role is a tradition? I’m not sure your customers – or perhaps even you – expect that? buckthorncobnutSo what is the solution? Consumer confidence, Trade confidence comes with a robust marque which is beyond reproach – we know something is organic if we see the Soil Association logo (even if the very smallest farmers can’t afford the certification), likewise we know that the producers of Fairtrade products are guaranteed to have been paid a premium if we see the Fairtrade logo. So what marque is there which captures local, artisanal, seasonal, traditional and indeed a host of other things? That marque, that idea is the Slow Food movement, which on November 1, 2015 became Slow Food in the UK. Slow Food assists the trade in several ways, firstly we engage and explain to consumers why when you choose genuinely local products the difference that makes. The countryside is an artificial place – it looks as it does because of farming; and by you purchasing genuinely local food you are sustaining your local community. Indeed we are fortunate in that our message is seldom of the radio, or out of the newspapers We provide sourcing guides to the Trade – you want to know where you can by Norfolk Sea Lavender honey? We’ll tell you. Ditto if you’re looking for a producer of Devon Ruby beef that can manage trade volume. Thirdly we have our program the Chef Alliance, a group led by Chefs for Chefs. Meet with your peers, share ideas, meet producers, and crucially gain a Slow Food Chef Alliance decal for your restaurant – a guarantee to your customers that your values are our values which are their values. Each month I’ll be exploring these themes in more detail, but in the meantime if you would like to apply to become a Chef Alliance Member (£36 a year) email [email protected] SFUKCAIf you would like standard membership of Slow Food, then Staff Canteen readers can have a year’s membership at 1/3 of the standard rate if you apply before December 31, 2015 – simply go to http://bit.ly/1MlkKaf Shane Holland is Executive Chairman of Slow Food in the UK. He has owned and run restaurants, managed a boutique hotel, and in the past has worked for an organisation that counted apples from Germany as local.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th December 2015

Slow Food Blog by Shane Holland: What we really mean by local