Guy Warner: Local producers stepping up

PUBLISHED: 11:10 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:10 02 June 2020

The Woolpack in Slad's new local grocery outlet

The Woolpack in Slad's new local grocery outlet

Archant

As supermarkets feel the strain of coronavirus, it is our local producers who are stepping up and keeping us fed and watered - and with great results. Could this be a sign of things to come?

The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there,’ so wrote LP Hartley in The Go Between. Never have those words seemed more poignant than now.

There is no doubting the terror, alarm and distress that is being caused the world over by Covid-19. But these days of enforced isolation are also giving us time to reflect – on how we lived our lives BC (Before coronavirus) and what our world might look like AC (After coronavirus).

One of the main upheavals is in the way we shop. For the last 30 years, supermarkets have grown in power and stature to position themselves as giant warehouses of all of life’s essentials. BC, most of us couldn’t fathom a week, perhaps even a day, without a trip to one of the great superstores. Year-round strawberries, cheap meat, bread and milk, exotic vegetables and a paralysis-enducing choice of cereals, yogurts and biscuits – supermarkets provided us with anything and everything we dared hope for.

The Woolpack in Slad's new local grocery outletThe Woolpack in Slad's new local grocery outlet

What a difference a month makes. Today, it’s only the brave who enter those sliding doors more than is absolutely necessary. Supermarkets that were once alive with possibility have been reduced to dungeons of despair. Shelves that were once fully clothed with choice are conspicuous in their nakedness; customers, so used to having the world, are getting used to making do.

All of which means there has to be a different way of doing things. Certainly, there has been an increased interest in local food here in the Cotswolds. Farm shops are seeing a five-fold increase in numbers, people are queuing outside the butchers and artisan bakeries are offering fresh bread deliveries to local communities. Local veg box schemes are at capacity and pubs, cafés and restaurants are adapting to offer ready meals, grocery deliveries and customer food collection points. More importantly, customers, in the main, are thoroughly enjoying this re-discovery of the local produce that’s on their doorstep.

It’s a way of doing things that I’ve always championed at Warner’s Budgens. Striking a balance between what the supermarket can offer us and how we can also support our local producers. For me, choosing to eat local has always been about more than cost and convenience – it’s a way of connecting with a community, of sharing real-life stories, of celebrating great quality produce.

I’m optimistic that post coronavirus, we can continue this trend and find a middle ground.

Hayles Fruit Farm. Photo: Antony ThompsonHayles Fruit Farm. Photo: Antony Thompson

LP Hartley was right that they do things differently in the past – I’m hoping that our world, AC, will shine a light on how we must do things in the future so that we all might thrive.

Locally-owned company Warner’s Budgens have six stores in the area - Bidford-on-Avon, Broadway, Moreton-in-Marsh, Quedgeley, Tewkesbury and Winchcombe. More information at warnersbudgens.co.uk

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