The Benefits of Sourcing Local Produce
Imagine you could meet and speak to a great-great-great-great-grandparent. What would you talk about?
You'd probably start with technology. Smartphones, computers and the internet would be unthinkably extraordinary for someone born in the 18th century – especially the concept of a digital detox.
Then, invariably, the conversation would turn to food. And your out-of-place antecedent would probably be just as surprised by your dietary habits as they were by your iPhone.
Blueberries in winter? Raspberries all year round? Pineapples at the local shop? To them, it would feel like magic.
Your Georgian ancestor would be used to eating preserved fruits and veg. They'd probably have some imported grain in their larder too. But apart from these anomalies, their diet would have consisted exclusively of fresh local produce.
It would be the same story if you'd bumped into a Neanderthal, a Pict or Shakespeare. Local produce has always been the norm. Our modern methods of intercontinental trade and a globalised food economy are a mere blip on the timeline of human history.
For some, this is enough to make the case for shopping locally. 'Our ancestors had the right idea', they might say. 'We've fixed something that isn't broken.'
This is a compelling argument – but it's not the only one. Tradition aside, eating locally sourced ingredients can have all sorts of benefits for your health, your community and Planet Earth.
Let's take a look at a few of them.
Local produce means peace of mind
Think about tomato soup.
You crack into a tin from your local supermarket. You pour it into a bowl and pop it in the microwave. It tastes perfectly fine. Lunch done.
But do you pause to consider what's gone into that soup? How the tomatoes were grown? What pesticides were used? Where the ingredients came from? What added ingredients have been thrown in to amplify that creamy tomato taste?
That tin of soup might contain tomatoes from China, sugar from India and preservatives from a lab in Aberdeen. Every step in the chain is a mystery. The truth is concealed behind a colourful label and an obscure list of ingredients.
Buying local produce puts you closer to the food you eat. If you buy ingredients from a local farm, it's easy to ascertain whether that farm uses techniques you're comfortable with. If you buy them from a farmers' market, you might even meet the person who grew them.
It tastes better
Speak to any localvore (yes, that's what we're called).
They'll all tell you the same thing: local produce tastes miles better than the mass-produced stuff.
There's a very simple reason for this. Local produce is, by definition, seasonal produce. It's grown when it's meant to be grown, harvested when it's meant to be harvested and lands on your plate with minimal processing.
It's fresh, it's nutritious and it tastes just the way nature intended.
Supermarket produce, by contrast, has often flown halfway around the world in refrigerated containers. Much of it has also been artificially ripened, which makes it look fresh on the shelves but gives it less time to develop those delicious natural flavour compounds.
Of course, some local ingredients taste better than others. A bad potato is a bad potato, however you slice it. But if you buy products sourced from a trusted local farm, you can be reasonably sure it will trump anything you'll find in the grocery aisle.
It helps your community thrive
Supermarkets are convenient. In fact, convenience is basically their raison d'etre.
You can pop to your nearest big-brand store and pick up just about anything you could ever need. Exotic fruits, baking ingredients, frozen vegetables… You name it.
In truth, though, your local supermarket is about as 'local' as a colony of kangaroos. Chances are, its HQ is hundreds of miles away. It might even be in a different country.
This means every penny spent in a supermarket is a penny in the pocket of a multinational corporation. Local, independent shops don't even get a look in.
This is why sourcing local produce is a great way to support local businesses. It keeps money flowing through the community and keeps it out of corporate pockets.
You buy groceries from a local store, which pays a local farmer, who pays local farmhands, who spend their wages in local stores. It's simple, it's fair and it helps your community thrive.
It's more sustainable
You'll often hear that local produce is more environmentally friendly because it hasn't travelled halfway around the world to reach your table.
This is true. A truck full of potatoes that's travelled five miles has pumped out fewer emissions than a cargo ship from Cambodia.
But this only paints part of the picture. Equally important – if not more so – is the way the food is grown.
Again, it comes down to seasonality. We can only enjoy out-of-season ingredients because food boffins have figured out ways to recreate the natural conditions these plants need to grow.
Cloning climates doesn't come cheap. Industrial farmers use eye-watering amounts of energy and other natural resources to grow food in bulk and out of season.
Local produce, on the other hand, is more likely to be organic, seasonal and responsibly grown. There's a chance it isn't – every batch has a bad apple. But you know where it's come from, so at least you can check.
Our approach to local produce
Here at The Glass House, we take a holistic approach to health and well-being.
This means treating the mind, the body and the soul. It means offering anxiety-melting chillout spaces and spa treatments alongside heart-pumping exercise classes. And it means dishing up delicious meals, lovingly prepared using local, plant-based ingredients.
All our vegetables arrive fresh to our kitchen every morning, where they're transformed into tasty, healthy dishes by our world-class chef and his team. We use a trusted and respected local supplier – and we always choose organic ingredients wherever possible.
Dining at The Glass House is like dietary liberation. It's a chance to break out of bad habits and leave unhealthy, processed foods behind. It's a new take on tradition, where organic, local produce meets cutting-edge culinary techniques.
Stay for a one-night spa break, a weekend or an extended sabbatical. In any case, you can expect a warm welcome and delicious, seasonal menus.