British Food Fortnight: Best of Britain on a plate

BRITISH Food Fortnight was conceived in response to the fact that, though there are numerous food initiatives, projects and events taking place across Britain, there was no overall flagship event to bring them to the public’s attention.

It was held for the first time in Autumn 2002 at the same time as Harvest Festival, the traditional time for celebrating our food.

Since its launch, the event has quickly become the definitive national celebration of British food, and the health benefits and pleasures of eating quality, fresh, seasonal and regionally-distinct produce. It has established itself on the national calendar extremely quickly, says Emma Crowhurst.

By focusing effort on a calendar date, it gives people involved in the food business something to aim for, and helps concentrate their efforts. It is therefore much more than a mere date in the diary. It is proving an important influence in engaging the retail, catering, education and volunteer sectors and in establishing a more robust market for Britain’s food.

This year British Food Fortnight is taking place from July 27 until August 12, having been moved to link with the Olympics in order to give visitors an opportunity to sample the best of British.


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Hundreds of activities are taking place across the country during Love British Food 2012 including promotions, tastings and special menus in pubs, restaurants and shops, special events in care homes for the elderly, scrumptious servings of British food in garden centre cafes, patriotic menus in hospitals, family feasts in children’s centres and lots of fun food and drink festivals and country fairs.

Britain produces some of the best food and drink in the world so come and celebrate this by taking part in British Food Fortnight activities. Here are some things you can do to buy and eat a healthier, more varied diet and discover the diverse and delicious range of food that Britain has to offer:

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- When you are shopping make a special effort to seek out British food. Pause when you select your food from the supermarket aisle. Look at the label. Does it tell you where the food has come from? Does it provide a description of who produced it? And if it is imported is there a British equivalent in-season? Do ask staff and particularly store managers for locally-grown produce.

- Shop in local butchers, greengrocers, farm shops and markets that source locally and will be able to tell you a little about the person who produced the food you are purchasing. Shopping for food warrants the same amount of time as choosing that perfect DVD for a night-in or the latest computer game.

- When next at the pub, team up a local beer with a local speciality for an authentic experience that reflects the character of the area where you live. Ask the pub staff to point you to local food on their menu. Enterprise Inns, Everards, Marston’s Pub Company, Mitchells & Butlers, Orchid Pub Group, Punch Taverns and Youngs all support the Fortnight so there will be an abundance of good pub grub.

- Think beyond the chicken nugget when planning a family meal out. If there is not a good children’s menu ask for children-sized portions of the main menu.

- Explore food from different regions of Britain as a fun way of experiencing our culture and heritage. Though there is still much bland, mass-produced food that reflects little of the region it has come from, organisations such as the National Trust and the Youth Hostel Association make a special point of serving quality regionally-distinct produce from local producers.

- Cook a British meal for friends – nothing beats the old favourites such as Cottage Pie or Apple Crumble. Consider inviting friends round for a British Food Fortnight feast.

- Planning a family outing? Visit a National Trust property – lots organise food events: stay in a Youth Hostel with a special British menu: or a bed and breakfast that uses locally-sourced ingredients; and shop in your local Country Market.

- Pick your own. What is better or healthier than being able to enjoy fresh fruit selected and picked by yourself. Look out for fruit farms near you or rummage in the hedgerows for blackberries.

- Grow your own. Eating food you have grown yourself – even if it is just a lettuce – is immensely satisfying. Potatoes, herbs and carrots are easy to grow and you do not need much space to do so.

- Finally, don’t forget the humble carrot. Britain has wonderful speciality cheeses and meats and delicious condiments but enormous pleasure can also be gained simply enjoying fresh, in-season vegetables.

Events near you in Suffolk to enjoy over the next few weeks:

For the children:

Woodbridge’s Wyevale Garden Centre is asking youngsters to draw their favourite cake to help celebrate food fortnight. Entries should be handed in by August 31st. The winner will be announced on September 17.

For the grown ups:

Top Suffolk caterers, The Main Ingredient, are running a competition to find the Best of British Sandwich.

Entrants submit details of their perfect British sandwich, which must match certain criteria, by August 9. Winners will be announced on August 10. Find out more at: www.the-main-ingredient.com/bestbritishsandwichcompetition/

The Big Onion:

The Big Onion Food and Drink Festival at Elveden on August 25 has confirmed more than 50 of East Anglia’s finest food, drink and home accessory producers, as well as a line-up of great chefs and musicians from the local region.

The festival will run from 10am until 7pm. Advance tickets cost �5 for adults, �3 for children and �14 for a family ticket, with on the day prices starting from �5 for children. Tickets can be purchased online at www.elveden.com, by calling 01842 898068, by visiting the Elveden Shopping Courtyard or the Bury St Edmunds Tourist Information Centre.

More information can be found at www.bigonionfestival.com.

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