Who remembers the days when Taunton Cider was a world-wide name? Who has heard the term ‘Apple County?’
Somerset is blessed with a combination of fertile land and beautiful weather. A combination which has made our local produce some of the best you can find anywhere in the UK, and arguably the world. From the Somerset Levels to the Blackdown Hills, we have an extraordinary and largely uncommercialised farming industry which provides a diverse range of fresh produce.
City dwellers have no choice other than buy their groceries from supermarkets. The markets and market traders who do exist in places like London must buy in their products or transport their goods there, both of which nullify the meaning of freshly-picked and locally-grown. We live in a town where the availability of such things are literally on our doorstep, and we take it for granted.
Taunton is, and always has been, a market town. It exists because people got together and began trading. It’s a market town because of the market, not the other way around. Until the early part of this century, Taunton had one of the largest livestock markets in the UK. That now has a new location off Junction 24, but the farmers of Taunton Vale still think Taunton is the place to come to offer their delicious produce.
These are farmers who go out when it’s still dark and milk their cows, pick their vegetables, make their chutneys and prepare their meat. They do it for you. They do it because they know that to ensure their produce is the best, the freshest and the healthiest, is to do it themselves, and do it right.
That’s why we make our way to the High Street every Thursday. It’s not just about making extra money – as most of our producers will agree, they’d have given up on that a long time ago if that were the case. It’s about sharing our passion for good food. It’s corny, I know, but the real difference between supermarket and farmers market food is love. We love what we do. We want you to love it, too.
But it’s so more expensive, I hear you say. Well, some things are more expensive, it’s true. But there are also many deals available. Three packs of meat for £10.00. All free range. Is that so expensive? If you look round, you’ll find many of the things available are not only comparable to what you’d buy in a quality store, they’re sometimes cheaper, too. Try the organic vegetables, the free-range eggs and meats and discover how much better it all tastes. If you do pay extra, it’s because it’s worth it. Properly raised beef, pork and poultry tastes nothing like supermarket meat. The organic veggies are packed with flavour and nutrients. With my stall next to Beech Ridge Farm, I often hear people report how their chicken last week tasted how it did during the war, or like ‘real’ duck.
It’s because the poultry at Beech Ridge farm and the meat and vegetables on the other stalls around me are raised like ‘real’ food, rather than factory-processed.
The Apple County got its name because of its farmers. This reputation, and the name which has grown around it, comes from the hard work and enthusiasm of local farmers. In a 21st Century full of smart-phones, video games and virtual friends, isn’t it time you got ‘real’, too?