FOOD: Raising the profile of producer and farmer markets and promoting local produce

By Bill Heaney

We bought some wild salmon fillets from the Pittenweem fish van which comes around the doors in Dumbarton each Friday morning, but is that good enough for climate change campaigners and does it qualify as “locally sourced food”?

Mairi Gougeon, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, whose name has a piscine-related ring to it, says the Scottish government have published a draft local food strategy, which sets out the wealth of actions they are taking to encourage local food consumption.

She said: “They include launching the Scotland campaign  which brings so much to the table to drive increased sales and awareness of Scottish produce; raising the profile of producer and farmer markets around Scotland and promoting access to local produce from butchers, fishmongers, bakers and farm shops through the food and drink recovery plan; and the food for life programme, which supports the provision of more locally sourced, healthier food in schools. In 2021-22, we will target all 32 local authorities – including West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute –  with £400,000 of funding.

Good food is a magnet for shoppers at this market in Barcelona. Why don’t we change tack in the way we market Scottish food, asks the Minister. Pictures by Bill Heaney

“We are currently consulting on the draft strategy to ensure that the public and relevant organisations have the chance to shape further Government action to encourage the consumption of local food.”

MSP Collette Stevenson asked for lowland deer managers to br brought into the picture and given  a voice in the on-going discussions?

“How can we ensure that more local produce is available in public sector catering, such as school and hospital canteens,” she asked.

Mairi Gougeon told her SNP colleague: “I encourage lowland deer managers and anyone who has an interest in the strategy, which will be wide ranging, to make sure that they share their views through the local food consultation.

 “The consultation is open for responses until 26 November, giving people the chance to shape further Government action to encourage local food consumption.

“We are absolutely committed to increasing the local sourcing of food and drink in the public sector. Glasgow City Council recently became the 17th local authority to achieve food for life status in its primary schools.

“Our support for that programme continues and we are in discussion with the Soil Association about options for expanding it into other settings in the public sector.”

She added: “The Scottish Government agrees that locally sourced food has many benefits. That is why, in addition to the actions that we set out in the local food strategy, we recently introduced the Good Food Nation (Scotland) Bill, which will place duties on Scottish ministers and other public authorities to produce plans for their food policies and to set out what they will do to ensure that those plans are made real.

“We are also undertaking scoping work on a single marketing brand—sustainably Scottish—for all Scottish food and drink produce. The brand will be available to all Scotland-based producers, manufacturers and suppliers who can satisfy stringent criteria around provenance and low-carbon operations. That will allow many Scottish businesses that have a strong story to tell about sustainability to capitalise on demand.”

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