The words “locally sourced” might conjure up images of posh restaurants on the banks of the River Thames with perfect kitchen gardens; or maybe Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall serving up clay-baked hedgehog with foraged garlic and puffball mushrooms. But it can be a lot more than that “locally sourced” is not just about food. It can be applied to almost everything we do. I’d like to think that one of the reasons so many professional kitchens in our territory, which extends from South Wales to Surrey and from deepest Devon to the wilds of Worcestershire, use AC Services to maintain their ovens, is because we provide a fast, friendly and efficient local service. And because we are local, we succeed or fail by the reputation we leave with every job we do.
In turn, we always prefer to do business with suppliers who are local to us in South Gloucestershire. It’s not as if their proximity suddenly makes them better at plumbing or fixing computers, it’s because our relationship with them extends beyond the service they provide; they live and work in the same community as us and probably share the same pubs and shops, schools and local amenities.
But, going back to baked hedgehogs, it does seems ironic, after all the efforts by scientists and engineers to shrink this great world of ours, bringing us fresh strawberries and asparagus all-year-round, that we are now infatuated with the idea of sourcing our food locally.
According to research into food-buying habits by YouGov, 49% of UK consumers prefer to buy locally sourced products – though only 25% would actually pay more for the privilege. 31% say they would prefer to eat at a pub or restaurant that serves locally sourced food.
Supermarkets now have to tell you where their food has come from and that will give you some idea of the environmental cost of getting it into your trolley. But it tells you nothing about the farmer or grower who produced it or how ethical he is. Buying from small, local producers and retailers means you have a much better chance of knowing exactly where your food comes from and who produced it. The other good thing about using local produce is that you have to eat seasonally. It does mean no asparagus in autumn or strawberries in depth of winter. But isn’t that actually quite a nice thought?
Talking about asparagus, I think the season has just started. I’ll have to pay a visit to one of AC Services customers in the Vale of Evesham. Mmmmm!