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Chef Paula's outrage at £7 for bunch of turnips in 'rip-off' farm shops

By Laura Abernethy

Published 27/07/2016

Paula McIntyre, with her £7 turnips in her Portstewart home
Paula McIntyre, with her £7 turnips in her Portstewart home

A Northern Ireland chef has hit out at the price of produce in some farm shops here after she was charged £7 for around 500g of turnips.

Paula McIntyre said she felt "ripped off" when she bought the vegetables from a local shop and feels high prices can do damage to the 'eat local' message.

She said she picked up seven small white turnips from a local shop along with a gammon, some potatoes and some broccoli.

Her basket came to almost £20 and when she left the shop, she thought it was quite expensive so she checked her receipt and was shocked to see how much the turnips cost.

The radio chef and cookbook author is a big supporter of local producers and artisan food but she said that shops that rip off customers are "as bad as big supermarkets".

After posting a picture of the turnips on Facebook, she said she got huge reaction from friends and other foodies.

"I want to support farmers," she said. "It makes sense to shop locally. I don't like supporting supermarkets but I don't want to support rip-off farm shops either. Just because you are local and you call yourself a farm shop, it isn't carte blanche to rip-off the country.

"For me, a farm shop should be something that is linked to a farm, so you are getting it cheaper. They should be growing it and selling it from their farm. That is brilliant because it means the farmer can sell directly to the customer. They get a price that is fair and the customer benefits from that. When somebody is taking something and adding a massive profit, then that's giving the whole thing a bad name."

With the Northern Ireland year of Food and Drink in full swing, our produce is being celebrated across the world.

Paula said that she does a lot to encourage people to cook for themselves and shop locally, but mark-ups like this make it difficult to get the message across.

She said: "I just think £7 for a pound of turnips is too much. As some people pointed out on my Facebook page, they are trying to get people to cook, but fast food is cheaper when things are priced like this. I could eat out for the cost of what I bought there.

"I want to stress that I don't mind paying for good food, and I don't mind paying a wee bit extra, but I don't like being ripped off, and I particularly don't like other people being ripped off when I am trying to encourage them to cook at home.

"I am all about encouraging people to cook, buy local produce, and go to local green grocers, but at the same time, I can go elsewhere and get great produce for less than that."

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