This week I have spoken about the success and challenges faced by butchers in the current climate during a Scottish Parliament debate on local food. As the granddaughter of a butcher, who worked in the industry since he left school, I understand the skills involved and welcomed the opportunity to have this debate in Parliament.
There are undoubtedly opportunities for local butchers in today’s markets and reports of increased footfalls amongst local butcher shops are encouraging. I also understand that many are now promoting online sales which is vital in today’s marketplace.
There are undoubtedly benefits to shopping locally, a shorter supply chain, higher quality and traceability. However, we can’t hide from the fact that many families across Scotland are facing harsh economic challenges. When faced with the choice of spending £3.24 for a lb of pork sausages at a farmers market or £1.38 at a supermarket many households have to prioritise price before other factors.
The debate was held by Nigel Don MSP who aimed to congratulate farmers’ markets and food purveyors across the country. Nigel Don also hosed a successful Farmers Market in the Scottish Parliament to highlight Scotland’s finest food and drink, promoting the ethos of ‘Buy local, eat Scottish.’
I was delighted to see that the farmers market in Parliament included two Fife companies, St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company and Eden Brewery and was delighted to talk to both them and mention them during the debate along with Fife’s fantastic reputation for food and drink.
Last year I held a debate in Parliament highlighting the excellent work of Fife Diet and their Food Manifesto and I called for a wider debate on our relationship with food, particularly on what and how we eat. The recent revelations that have emerged from the horsemeat scandal shows that a wider debate is still essential. It is important that low income families are not excluded from the benefits that come from shopping locally and regardless of what you can afford for food, you still deserve to have confidence in the quality of what you are buying.