Vanessa Powell takes a look at our local environment.
We all love the English countryside and each of us enjoys it in our own special way. Some of us relish nothing more than a bracing muddy walk, others run, cycle or ride along country lanes and bridleways and we all admire the views from the windows of our cars, homes or country pubs.
Our green and pleasant land is a by-product of our rich agricultural heritage. Spring lambs gambolling in lush green pastures, fields of golden corn swaying in a summer breeze, orchard boughs laden low by ripe apples and hedgerows bountiful with autumn fruits - these images are the essence of the English rural landscape.
Diversity of farming practices is the key to sustaining the richly varied countryside we value so highly and by buying locally sourced food, we can directly support the market gardeners, orchard fruit producers and livestock farmers that nurture our countryside as part of their daily work.
Buying local food has a positive impact on many levels; locally we are pledging our support for small family enterprises that care for our rural environment and globally, reducing food miles means lower carbon emissions due to transportation, a win-win situation for conserving the natural environment.
Locally sourced foods are invariably sold through small independent traders, butchers, greengrocers, farm shops, market stalls and milkmen; by supporting these wonderful local businesses we are ensuring that our high streets continue to provide us with choice over where our food comes from and to some extent, the welfare and farming practices by which it was produced.
Visiting four or five shops to get our weekend shop may consume more precious time but the benefits of knowing where your food has come from, chatting to a friendly retailer who will freely give advice and feeling part of the local community are all great positives that are harder to experience in one of our national chains of supermarkets.