Defra secretary Liz Truss is urging people to get behind British Food Fortnight. She tells Farmers Weekly readers why it should be a concern of everyone in the country.

“Up and down the country, people are celebrating all that is great about our wonderful home-grown food and drink as part of the excellent British Food Fortnight (20 September to 5 October 2014).

And with the National Harvest Festival happening next month, you can see what an important time this is for our farming community.

Video: Defra secretary underlines importance of British food

It is great the public are being encouraged to connect with seasonal, locally grown, locally reared produce – whether it’s pumpkins for soups or bramley apples and blackberries for a home-made crumble.

Events like this remind us how crucial the food and drink business is to this country – and how much of an effect it has abroad. It is now worth £97bn to our economy every year, employing one in eight people.

I want us to lead the world in this vital area and I am committed to connecting more people with the things they eat and drink, making the link between fork and field, and increasing the opportunity at every level to choose healthy, seasonal, local produce.

Across the country, there is a welcome revival of local food, whether it is the Black Pig of Norfolk, Wensleydale cheese from Yorkshire or Lakeland Herdwick lamb from the Lake District. It is fantastic to see a step towards a rich food culture, away from the identikit food that bedevilled post-war Britain.

We want to do what we can to highlight the benefits of shorter supply chains and encourage people to eat locally. This is about more than just fantastic taste – it is about identity and connection to our landscape. In Norfolk, it is the Norfolk Brecks’ unique flora and fauna that co-exists with arable and pig farming to provide us with outstanding pork; and in Yorkshire, it is the unique grass in the Dales the cows graze on that gives Wensleydale its taste.

I would like to see people using these two weeks to go out and discover more of their local, seasonal foods so we can protect and promote more of our rich and valuable heritage in food and farming.