Small producers are the bread & butter of the UK food industry and we’ve never been more thankful for them!
As I write, we’re in the middle of our third national lockdown – don’t worry, I promise I won’t mention it again! In amongst the strange routine we’ve made for ourselves, food is an even bigger deal in our house than normal.
At the Chopping Block we’ve always been advocates of small producers. Whether it’s rearing cattle, crafting chutney or roasting coffee beans, they are the bread and butter of the food & drink industry in the UK. There’s nothing that can replace chatting to the people who raise the animals, stir the pots and hand wrap every tasty morsel they sell.
It’s been phenomenal to see people asking more questions about what they eat and drink in the past year. There’s been a massive shift towards artisan produce. As consumers we’re more aware than ever of how what we eat affects the environment, communities and people.
You’ll have noticed a few more programmes on the box lately, shouting out these foodie champions. Small producers are boundary pushers, risk takers and passionate advocates of what they do.
So we wanted to shout out some of our favourites, who have been receiving some well deserved attention recently…
We met Lee at a food show a while ago.
As someone who has spent my fair share of time working for small producers, I’ve put in a whole heap of hours behind a counter at these things and it is bloody hard work! He captured us with his super friendly patter and the most delicious Shoe-string Pork Crackling I’ve ever eaten.
Lee and Shelly raise Tamworth Pigs on their smallholding, nestled just outside Carlisle (take a peek on Instagram for regular Boris the Pig updates). Everything they do is driven by a commitment to sustainable, high quality, small batch products. They produce incredible charcuterie. Truly, their morsels of food are an absolute gamechanger.
I’ve been to their Smokery and, along with a gorgeous smelling garden overflowing with the herbs they use to cure their meat, you can’t help but be lured in by wafts of smokey deliciousness.
You may recognise them from a feature on the BBC (take a look here to meet them) or from Farmers Markets around the North of England. We always have a treat or two from them in our Deli counter. If you fancy something particularly special on your grazing platter, you honestly won’t find charcuterie better than this!
The Yorkshire Pasta Company
It’s easy to forget just how much influence house-hold name chefs have in the UK. That is until they feature a small producer who’s website crashes as so many people try to learn more!
Luckily, Kathryn worked incredibly hard after James Martin featured her beautiful pasta and by the next day things were back to normal.
We met Kathryn in March 2020, the day she launched her business. It is no mean feat to have a big name chef cook with your product, let alone when it’s less than 12 months since you launched. If that doesn’t tell you just how driven and talented Kathryn is, I’m not sure what will.
With a commitment to producing sustainable Yorkshire milled pasta, wrapped lovingly in handsome plastic-free bags, Kathryn is making real strides in the UK food scene. Yes, pasta is Italian and of course it’s lovely to have the real deal, but this UK made pasta is just as good any that’s imported (and you’re supporting a small producer to boot).
Take a look at James’ recipe using her pasta here!
Ribble Valley Gin Co.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll have noticed that Gin has undergone a huge wave of popularity.
No longer Mother’s Ruin, you’ll find a plethora of bottles in any shop, from traditional London Dry to colour-changing and everything in between.
We met Justine & Luke a few months after we opened the shop. I’m a sucker for a tipple of gin, so made a bee line straight for their glamourous copper counter and I’m so glad I did – there is a whole heap of bad gin out there, but bad gin this is not…
Their small batch gin (they only make 50 bottles per batch) is hand crafted in a traditional still, in Lancashire. Each gin has been painstakingly created to reflect the beauty of our British countryside, with every bottle boasting unique characteristics.
Our favourite is their latest signature gin, Country Lane. Paying homage to the simple veggie patch, they’ve brought together juicy tomatoes, carrots and sweet shallots for a subtly savoury and slightly sweet gin. You’ll find it on our shelves or can buy it directly from them here instead.
So if like us, you look forward to your meals all the more these days, why not treat yourself to something extra special and crafted by small producers here in the UK. You’ll be supporting them, their community and our beautiful British countryside.
If that’s not an excuse for a G&T I don’t know what is… chin chin!