A new national directory of farm shops and high street food retailers is being launched by www.mealsinfields.co.uk at the Food and Drink Expo at the NEC, Birmingham from 25 to 27 March.
“The concept is very simple really,” said director, Sharon Eason. “No small business can possibly compete with the might and money of the supermarkets, but if all those specialists who provide lovely fresh local food were to join together, then we would have the budget to create the national promotions that are so important to keep the high streets vibrant.”
Great Britain has a history of local delicacies and local recipes to make the most of that food. The website is creating an on-line resource to preserve those recipes, and let everyone know where to go to find the suppliers. We are in danger of losing our heritage if steps are not taken urgently to promote our food producers, in the way the French do so successfully. www.mealsinfields.co.uk has set out to actively promote farm shops, delicatessens, local butchers, bakers and fishmongers, bringing their skills and knowledge to the notice of all people who are interested in really good food.
Before starting out to attract the food producers to the website, the team worked hard to develop a regular audience for the website and to build visitor numbers. Throughout 2011, they could be seen at various events collecting recipes and developing regular visitor numbers to the website. The work has paid dividends with visitors to the website now contributing recipes and offering ideas to make cooking and eating outdoors easier. The recipes are not restricted to outdoor eating, and include many ideas for winter casseroles, soups and stews. The only criteria is that the recipes must be original and use local, fresh produce – no cans or jars or packets, unless totally unavoidable, for example with chickpeas. The stock of recipes now stands at 200, but visitors to the website are challenged to increase this to 500 over the summer months.
Food producers joining the website are guaranteed an existing and growing audience who are looking for their wares. “It was hard work,” said Dave Eason, “but it was also very enjoyable meeting people and finding out what they want on the website. I’m looking forward to the shows we’ve planned for this year.”
The website is undergoing a bit of a makeover in the next couple of months to make it easier and quicker to use, with better interaction for all visitors.
# # #
To promote the use of farm shops and independent high street specialists by promoting healthy eating using locally sourced ingredients cooked in a restricted area, such as a caravan, boat or tent.