Prime Minister Tony Blair and DEFRA secretary David Miliband have jointly launched the Country Land and Business Association’s ‘Just Ask’ campaign encouraging consumers to ask where the food on their plate is produced when eating out.

The launch, which took place at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday (9 January), also featured CLA president David Fursdon and Lesley Waters of the BBC programme Ready, Steady, Cook.

Mr Fursdon said: “Just Asking where the food on your plate comes from is the first step in raising awareness of British food.  Too often a chef, waiter or proprietor won’t know. 

We intend to change that and, in the process, use consumer pressure to help ensure that we end up with more British food on our plates, increasing the amount of local suppliers and producers in the UK food chain.  British food ensures British farms and local producers have a future and can continue to provide the countryside we all enjoy.”

Mr Miliband said: “Whether you are eating in a roadside café or at a Michelin star restaurant I think there is something satisfying about knowing where the food on your plate comes from and the sense of connection that comes from eating local food.”

Next generation

Ms Waters said: “We need to teach the next generation to care where their food comes from.  Buying British food and sourcing local, seasonal produce insures that we have a viable farming industry which maintains the countryside we love.  Why choose apples from South Africa when you could be choosing from a seasonal variety from Great Britain?  This won’t happen overnight it’s going to be a slow-burn but we have to start somewhere.”

The launch was also supported by Frank McKay, chief executive of Brakes, the UK’s leading food supplier to the catering industry. 

“Brakes is pleased to support the ‘Just Ask’ campaign. As the UK’s leading supplier to caterers and a major purchaser from British producers, we are committed to offering our customers products that are not only of the highest quality, but have the integrity and traceability behind them that enables caterers, and in-turn consumers to make an informed choice,” said Mr McKay.

Caroline Cranbrook, CLA regional director for Suffolk who was awarded an OBE for services to the red meat industry in 2006, said: “Consumers are asking for an informed choice. Mankind has been hunting and gathering for hundreds and thousands of years but we’ve only been shopping for food and eating out relatively recently and lost connection with the land. 

Consumer

All the research I have done shows that the British consumer is anxious about their food and wants to be reconnected with food and where it comes from. What’s interesting is that in the last year alone, I have found that people want to buy local food because of the food miles – this has risen rapidly to the top of their agenda as a new concern.”

The Telegraph has initiated a debate on its website asking readers to give their views on local food. To read more or post an opinion click here.

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