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  Inside Out - North West: Monday June 23, 2003


Local produce is hard to purchase in the North West

Experts say that locally grown, reared or produced food is incredibly healthy.

But Inside Out discovers that obtaining it in the North West is too much like hard work!

Research shows that given the choice, more than half of us would buy local produce, the problem is we don’t.

Professor Vince Mitchell from UMIST says, "There are benefits in terms of health. The time of picking to plate when it’s come from down the road means that it’s fresh."

"It’s got more antioxidants and vital vitamins than if it comes on a boat from Argentina."


Professor Vince Mitchell
Professor Mitchell talks to Inside Out

Inside Out challenged the Price family from Oldham to prepare only local produce for the family dinner table.

Duncan says, "It’s not something I’d thought of. It would be nice to think I was supporting the local community."

Presenter Judy Hobson began the challenge by searching through the Price family’s weekly shopping and confiscating any items which were not locally produced.

Out of a weekly shop for Duncan, Barbara and their two sons, only one jar of pickles were produced in the region!

On the hunt

With their cupboard bare apart from a lonely jar of pickles, the hungry family shopped in an around Oldham for food produced in the North West.

The experiment revealed that apart from at specialist local outlets, it’s almost impossible to identify what is and isn’t genuine regional food.

Professor Mitchell says, "It’s not always in the supermarket’s interests to tell you because they make more money by bringing them from Argentina."

Duncan says, "At the shops a lot of the time they didn’t know where it was from."

The Price family from Oldham
The Price family where ready for the challange

Lengthily process

As both Duncan and Barbara work full-time, Barbara was concerned about the amount of time involved when they could simply pop to the well-stocked supermarket nearby.

She says, "To be honest, our main concern is convenience."

After a two hour scouring session, all the modern day hunter-gatherers returned with were some locally grown potatoes.

Healthy haven

One place which offered a wealth of healthy, local goods was the Farmer’s Market in Uppermill.

Everything from fresh lamb to tasty cheese to crusty bread could be purchased here. It’s all produced in the North West and is labelled clearly.

A market trader told Inside Out, "Until the Farmers' Market started they had never had an outlet where they knew where the lamb was coming from."

Economy booster

Professor Mitchell is quick to praise markets such as Uppermill.

He says, "People will be coming here from outside of the local area to buy things and that brings money to the local economy and everybody benefits."

Unfortunately, as markets such as this are scarce, it looks unlikely that families will abandon supermarket shopping just yet.

And the Price family say that because of the struggle involved, they will certainly be venturing back to their usual supermarket soon!

See also ...

On the rest of Inside Out
Local produce in the east

BBC: Food heroes North West

On the rest of the web
Lakes online: local produce shops
The Farm Produce Index

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

There are many butchers and greengrocers, within walking distance of most people's homes, who can tell you exactly where their produce is from. So, the option isn't the supermarket vs farmers' market, at all.

Angela Towers
On the whole farmers markets do not have a great deal of choice of fresh fruit & veg. As we are all encouraged to eat at least five portions of fruit & veg a day for many health benefits, 'green' markets selling local veg & fruit should be established alongside farmers & traditional markets.

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