Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Sustainable Food Directory: Online guide aims to help public find locally-sourced foods

A stall holder at St George's market in Belfast
A stall holder at St George's market in Belfast

A new guide has been launched to help consumers find suppliers of fresh, seasonal food in their local area – a first for Northern Ireland.

The digital Sustainable Food Directory, which has been created by the Belfast Food Network, is all about sourcing healthy, high-quality products.

It aims to simplify the search for value-for-money, locally-produced foodstuffs that are either the same price or cheaper than supermarkets.

Programme co-ordinator Kerry Melville said that how consumers choose to buy their food can make a huge difference to the local economy.

"One pound spent on local food generates £2.40 for the local economy compared to £1.20 when the same £1 is spent in supermarkets," she said.

The provenance of food was thrust into the spotlight last year after a high-profile contamination scandal that affected products in various stores.

"The 2013 horse meat crisis brought home the fact that we actually had no idea about what we put on our plates," said Ms Melville.

"Add to this recent reports on unacceptable domestic food waste costing us as a nation £12.5bn a year and local farmers' financial difficulties, and it's easy to see that something has to change and that people need to go back to simplicity."

And that's why, she said, the recently created Belfast Food Network has launched the digital Sustainable Food Directory.

"At the click of a button you will be able to find a retailer stocking fresh, seasonal and locally-sourced produce near you," she said.

"Just enter your postcode and the type of produce you are looking for and the closest retailer's details will pop up.

"Supermarkets claim they offer choice and value for money, and for many people they have become the one-stop shop for everything in the monthly shop, but a closer look shows that there are many cheaper options.

"Thanks to the Sustainable Food Directory, the public can discover an array of fresh, seasonal, locally-sourced and organic produce on their threshold, with the added bonus of often being better value-for-money than their supermarket equivalent. By slightly changing your shopping habits, you can ensure that everything you eat is guaranteed to be of traceable origin, is fresh and has helped a local producer or a farmer, as the money goes directly to them rather than to a faceless supermarket giant."

For more information visit www.belfastfoodnetwork.org

BACKGROUND

The horse meat scandal began in January last year when it emerged that frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets contained horse DNA. Investigations found other beef products sold by retailers, including lasagne and spaghetti bolognese, were contaminated, while meals in schools and hospitals had to be withdrawn after it was found they contained horse meat.

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