Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Here, There & Everywhere

Where does food come from?

                                               Finn knows! He's always been a farm boy.
                                             18 months in this pic and mastered the art of
                                             driving a Land Rover through a muddy field!!!

There's a lot of fuss at the moment about "food miles" what with fuel cost and environmental issues etc.  At times, you are almost made to feel guilty because those bananas in your supermarket trolley weren't grown on your doorstep. Now I don't fully buy into this. I live in Northern Ireland!!!! For those of you who have never been here, there is not a snowball's chance in hell of growing a mango worth eating! There's a reason that Ireland is associated with potatoes. They don't need an abundance of heat and sun and aren't too worried about near constant rain. And that's fine...but I like mangos.

However, I will buy locally where possible, so food which can be produced in Northern Ireland can be found in my trolley. And ingredients for our cakes are almost entirely local. REALLY local. This came about through blind luck as much as anything.

                                                     Vale meanwhile is more interested in
                                                             livestock than machinery.

Eggs is eggs they say. No! They really aren't! You get what you pay for and the difference in quality and taste between a free range egg and a mass produced battery egg is massive. The difference between the battery egg and a free range, grass fed chicken's egg from a small producer is phenomenal!  This is why we keep our own.  We can ensure that the best quality eggs go into our buns without having to pay a premium to get them. And as local produce goes? Well...They're about 50ft away.


Milk is a little bit trickier. We dont have space for a herd of cows. Nor a dairy. But a family friend of ours does. They have been dairy farmers for generations and I have milked their cows since I was 9 years old. Summer holidays, weekends and so on. I just love life on the farm! Now obviously we can't take milk directly from their cows so it goes a little something like this. Cows go into parlour, get milked. Tanker collects milk and travels the half a mile to the processing plant where it is pasteurised and bottled. Milk is collected by truck and delivered to shop a quarter of a mile down the road, back towards the farm. As I pass this shop regularly I pick up my milk there and drive it the 3 miles home. That is about as local as I think is possible without my own cows and it is all produced and sold by one family. A proper local, family business.

                                         Haven't got any flour photos. Have another cow one.
                                         This is the view from "the pit" in the parlour as the ladies
                                          come in for a milking. Some enjoy a nose stroke first.

Flour gets a little trickier again, but it is produced from primarily Irish wheat, milled near Belfast and bought from the shop next door to Finn's school up the road. At the moment I can't tell you a great deal more about it than that but I am trying to organise a show round with the producer so I can write about it here.  I'll let you know how that pans out.

                                                             Butter comes from cows!
                                               Hard to scratch behind your ears with hooves!
                                          So they have a spinning brushy thing on the way out.
Butter? Similar story. Produced in Dromara, about 12 miles away and bought in that same shop next to Finn's school. Must have a chat with them too. See if I can go play there for an hour or two.

Sugar...Er...You got me there. I very much doubt you will find a sugar cane farm in Ireland. Bit like the mangos really. But we do use a brand that is refined and packaged in Northern Ireland in a town called Lisburn. 14 miles away.

                                          Not strictly a Paddy...A Matt actually...Close enough!

That's the basics of it then. Obviously the gluten and dairy free is a bit more of a far flung lands affair as there are ingredients such as rice and soya involved. Ireland is well known for it's Paddys and it's fields but not it's paddy-fields.

Love & kisses

Suzi. xx


  1. You've forgotten the most important locally produced product we have in Northern Ireland - Tayto Crisps!!!!!

    Love your post about local produce, it's so important to not only support local but to also try and cut back on the food miles where possible. My parents have always grown their own vegetables and have had hens for eggs for as long as I can remember and when we eventually have our own space this is something we hope to do also.

  2. Ha ha!! We have introduced so many of our friends on the mainland to the joys of Tayto cheese and Onion. When we lived in Kent, Neil's mum used to post us multipacks now and then. BEST...CRISPS...EVER!!!!

    Couldn't agree more about food miles and supporting local businesses. There is a fantastic sense of community about dealing with people you can nip in to see too.


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