Food in the Cotswolds

Making the most of the rich and diverse availability of food in The Cotswolds. 

Text of a speech for Cotswold Taste and an article in The Cotswold Times

Moreton_Times_December_2018

Production

The Cotswolds is already known for it’s rich food and drink production much of which is marketed nationally. This production includes rapeseed oil, maize, cheese such as Godsells, beers from larger breweries such as Arkells and craft breweries such as Stroud, Wickwar and Severn Brewing Co, wine from Poulton Hill Estate, gin and whisky from The Cotswolds Distillery and Cotswold Wagyu Beef. Fortunately, it is growing constantly and it can only be encouraged. With plant-based products it’s only a matter of time before we see the introduction of Soya production which requires high altitude and a warmer climate – perfect for certain parts of The Cotswolds area. We are already seeing production growth of maize and spelt and an increase in the wild boar population and hence the availability of its meat.

Supply

It’s becoming the norm that our consumer demands can be satisfied by local grown and produced items. At present, no one on this planet seems to understand the consequences of BREXIT. I admit to being a remainer but fully accept our democracy has already committed to it. To my mind local production becomes even more essential to this demand and to a thriving economy. We need to take a positive slant on Brexit and encourage growth at home, artisan producers and developing new concepts

It’s not just about production it’s about sustainable, free range production of meat, fruit and vegetables. I have recently come across a new and growing production of micro herbs in Broadway, Grown By Tom. It’s an indication of the millennial desire to improve our health and wellbeing through nutritious food consumption. Likewise I have met an individual with a considerable background in international hospitality who has a vision to take the amazing products we have here in The Cotswolds and market them in other parts of the UK as well as the USA. I know we have something in this area to be hugely proud of and the word ‘Cotswolds’ is a massive USP.

Restaurants

We see an ever increasing and richly diverse restaurant and dining trade in the region. As we see an increase in varietal production there is no reason why we can’t locally sustain dishes from India, Asia and elsewhere in the world. Surely, it has to be a huge selling point that dish contents are produced locally whether it be in one of the great pubs around the area or some of the Michelin starred restaurants which exist.

Retail

Consumer demand dictates the need for ‘free range, organically produced and local food products. Even the larger supermarket groups recognise this need and the change to locally produced food and drink, where ever possible

The Importance of bringing all the entities together to promote the entities – hence Cotswold Taste

As we know, Cotswold Taste aims to be a collective for all aspects of the food and drink industry which includes technical aspects such as Environmental Health, training, design and planning. New start-ups and developers are in need of this assistance to ease the journey (and sometimes battle!)

The way forward

Through Cotswold Taste I have been involved in discussion with leaders of the vegan, plant based and it’s a truly fascinating subject. We have to ask ourselves, is this the future of food consumption and what are the alternatives?

Plant based initiative is based on the fact that we will have to move away from factory production and so meat production for the masses is unsustainable. There are so many questions to be answered. Can we encourage the population to, at least, significantly reduce meat consumption to allow it to be produced free range and organically? Should we follow the trend to veganism and radically discourage meat consumption completely? Is a completely plant based diet a sustainable option?

Headline of a recent article in The Observer:

“If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer” – Isabella Tree

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/25/veganism-intensively-farmed-meat-dairy-soya-maize

https://eatbychloe.com/2015/06/plant-based-vs-vegan/

Cotswold Tourism

Much of the Cotswolds AONB relies heavily on visitors and tourism. Our growing reputation as a food producing area, as an area with amazing dining experiences and, of course, the multitude of great places to stay can only serve to enhance the visitor experience and increase visitors numbers. The economy of the region is massively visitor dependent.

Employment

Without question, the food and drink production, food and drink retail, restaurants and hospitality is a major provider of employment for local citizens and migrants. The reality of BREXIT gives serious cause for concern in maintaining these levels. Whilst the government are actively coming up with solutions to maintaining levels of skilled and professional migrants to this country there appears to be a complete lack of initiative in maintaining the level of migrants in the food industry. It is a major concern and we have already seen a reduction of migrant workers who fear the consequences of BREXIT. In a discussion with a significant employer in this country and abroad, he tried to reassure me of great opportunities for immigration from the Indian continent and elsewhere. He didn’t convince me this would happen. I see this as an urgent and critical issue which no one appears to be addressing.

I have enjoyed a lifetime in this industry and more recently have developed a massive interest in supporting The Cotswolds in its ever growing status and have enthused about new start ups and producers. I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to continue.

Bazza

 

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