Given that we’re only just at the tail end of summer, it was a surprise at how few UK-sourced tomatoes were available at a local supermarket on Saturday.
Mrs Turner and myself had just popped in ‘for a few bits’, but our shopping took quite a lot longer than anticipated as Mrs T trawled through the various varieties on offer before she finally came across packs of plum tomatoes from Yorkshire.
A visit to the cold meats section was less successful, with none of the labelling satisfying her that the ham on offer was, indeed, a product of this country. I’m afraid for that purchase we had to visit another store.
We’ve always tried to support UK and local farmers – price, opportunity and time allowing – but Mrs T’s culinary patriotism became rather more fervent earlier this year when she was perusing the label of a chicken ‘product’ for our sons’ tea.
As a vegetarian, she is not good with meat to start with, but to read on the label that the chicken used was ‘produce of the EU and Brazil’ was a real shock.
It was not that the chicken came from abroad, it was that it could be made up of a mixture of batches of meat brought in from around the world. Needless to say, that particular product was not purchased and a lot more time and effort is now spent on checking the provenance of what goes in the shopping trolley. This does, of course, have repurcussions on the size of the bill at the checkout.
One of the things Mrs T now relies on is the Red Tractor logo, a mark that offers the assurance that the produce is sourced in the UK to strict standards.
And this week happens to be Red Tractor Week, the culmination of a year-long Trust The Tractor campaign which aims to increase consumer confidence and trust.
That’s all very well, but it does depend on supermarkets stocking and displaying these products – and producers taking care. The fact that a BBC investigation this week found Dutch pork carrying a Red Tractor logo could dent confidence in the scheme, but we should be glad that tests are available to detect any rogue batches.
I suppose the only way to be totally sure where your food comes from is to grow your own . . . perhaps it was a mistake giving up my allotment.