Monday, 24 February 2014

Shop Local: buying local produce for your wedding

Today we've been chatting to Kenny Pang who along with Paul Richardson, runs The Shef's Table. Based in Sheffield {but always happy to travel} Kenny & Paul have over 30 years combined experience in catering weddings, sports, events, fundraising events and even movie premiers.

They provide a totally bespoke service tailored to your budget, creating anything from casual buffets to themed fine dining experiences. I asked Kenny if he could write a post for the blog about the benefits of buying local produce for your wedding if you are buying in catering or indeed self catering your day... {over to you KP}

If you are thinking or have chosen to provide your own food in your wedding you may be thinking about where’s best to buy your ingredients. With the numerous supermarket superstores making it easy and convenient to shop, when you’re planning the most important day of your life there may be a few other things worth considering.


Generally, local food tastes better! Really? Really. Local foods are fresher and in season. There is a difference between the taste of a freshly picked apple compare to one picked 4 months ago, factory washed, stored in an industrial fridge and driven hundreds of miles. Eating locally also means eating seasonally. Locally, naturally grown produce are packed with flavour. There is no comparison between a locally grown tomato to an artificially gas ripened one. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that’s been pumped full of water, the one you leave untouched on the plate the last time you had a salad in that pub. Eating seasonally means that that you have to do without certain produce in certain times of the year. This does mean that after waiting 9 months the taste of that strawberry will taste even sweeter!


You may be aware that eating local may reduce the need to import produce from thousands of miles away. That’s a lot of carbon footprint for a few sprigs of thyme. But buying local also helps maintain the farmland and green space.


The fewer steps there are between your food's source and your table the less chance there is of contamination. Also, when you know where your food comes from and who grows it, you know a lot more about that food.


Your local supermarket may have some classic tomatoes, maybe some cherry tomatoes, a couple of vine tomatoes and some overly packaged beef tomato. Go to your local farmers market and you’ll know what I mean. You get Ferlines, Gardeners, Sweet Millions, Tornados, Tumblers, Alicante, etc. All types of produce in a variety of colours and flavours. Local foods tend to create a greater variety of foods available

Support your local economy 

Money spent with local farmers and growers and independent shops means that the money all stays close to home. It works to build your local economy instead of being handed over to a corporation in another city or country. Since the food moves through fewer hands, more of the money you spend tends to get to the people growing it. Knowing where your food is from connects you to the people who raise and grow it. Instead of having a single relationship - to a big supermarket - you develop smaller connections to more food sources. All of the sudden you know vendors at the farmers market, the buying manager at the local cheese shop, the butcher at your favourite meat counter. For some people, this may not be a benefit, for others the benefit of this is social and psychological; for all of us, though, it pays off in the foods we eat. People who know you tend to want to help you, whether it's giving you a deal on rack of lamb, save you a wedge of special cheese or hunt do the bottle of whiskey you’ve been searching for.


With the wedding to plan for, the cost savings may be the most interesting point for you. It would be misleading to say that buying from local suppliers would definitely save you money. This will be dependent on who you buy from and the time and effort you invest in as well. The key is buying straight from the producer. One difference between a local farmer and your local supermarket is that you can barter. The farmer is use to it so don’t feel shy to try. You will most likely be buying in bulk in a wedding and the farmer would be keen to strike a deal. When dealing with specialist shops, inform of your needs in advance, this means that they can pre-order and can negotiate on prices themselves with their suppliers as well. Use your supplier’s knowledge by telling them what you want and see whether they can recommend alternatives, it might end up cheaper and better than what you had in mind.

At the end of the day, use your wedding and tug on the heartstrings to get yourself a bargain.

{Photogrpahy: Diamonds & Doodles: Sheffield Wedding Photography}

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