If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed a banner on the top of my profile picture which says #BringHometheHarvest.
What does it mean? I hear you ask?
Well, tomorrow, September 20th kick-starts the beginning of British Food Fortnight and naturally, living on a farm. This is something very close to my heart.
I remember at primary school we used to collect tinned food and dried goods for the elderly in our community and present them at the altar in church for Harvest festival.
British Food Fortnight has its roots in the traditional Christian festival (which in turn had roots in a pagan festival) bit it is also so much more.
The 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 our 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. 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.
Tesco are the main sponsor and, if you shop there, you will already know that most of the British produce even has photos of the farmers who produced it on the packaging.
I’d love to see this handsome face on a leg of lamb in a supermarket soon.
The thing is, everything we eat will have originated from a farmer somewhere. If it wasn’t for farmers harvesting crops an vegetables or rearing livestock, the whole world would have nothing to eat.
Yet many people have no concept of where their food comes from.
As the largest showcase of British food on the national calendar, the event has come up with its own hashtag so people can keep track of everything during the fortnight using #HarvestFever on social media.
In connection with The Telegraph, organisers are on the look out for the new ‘harvest heroes’- the community and the groups of young people that organise the most innovative, inclusive and imaginative harvest celebrations during British Food Fortnight.
The competition winners will be selected by people from the world of food and farming including: The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Raymond Blanc, Adam Henson, Chris Collins, Blue Peter gardener, and Philip Clarke, Chief Executive of Tesco. The adult winners will be treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the new National Heritage Garden at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Raymond Blancs Michelin Starred restaurant, and the younger winners will receive an action-packed gardening workshop with Chris Collins and cookery equipment from Tesco Home Range.
There are many other initiatives taking place throughout the fortnight, including a photo competition in collaboration with the Farmers Guardian, a national harvest service and special British menus on offer at many pubs, cafes and restaurants across the country.
Why not use this fortnight as an excuse to re-connect with your food. Read labels in the supermarket, buy British produce, even take your kids to a farm to see what happens there.
Above all, whether you are religious or not, give thanks for our brilliant, hard-working farmers who work 365 days a year to ensure food is on our table.
To find out more about British Food Fortnight and to find out how to get involved, visit: www.lovebritishfood.co.uk.