Following on from my recent missive about Self Isolating I thought I was done with new phrases, then along comes ‘Key Workers’. This has, of course become much more serious over the past week. Well it was always serious, but only now are people actually are starting to take it seriously. The point made last week about morale and morals has again reared its head with record numbers of idiots visiting holiday hotspots to take advantage of the good weather. Do these people live on Mars?
Conversely, we have a first-class health system manned by people who have actually earned the right to be called that much overused word ‘hero’. I sincerely hope that the next honours list is exclusively filled with NHS front line staff, not ‘celebrities’ who have thankfully been conspicuous by their absence during this crisis. This has also brought a sense of perspective; does it really matter if a chocolate fondant is not runny Mr food critic? We now know who actually does add value to our society; ok soap box away!
The current situation has led me to question “who else are the Essential or Key Workers?” I suspect my conclusion might surprise a few people. Recognition has of course got to be given to all those people who have continued to work to ensure food and essential medical supplies are available. This includes manufacturers, producers, farmers, lorry drivers, and of course the front of house staff in the shops including supermarkets. Whilst FGP always have and always will champion the local businesses, in this instance we all have to be thankful for all those mentioned above and many others who work to ensure we can isolate in the knowledge that we will always be able to source food.
This crisis might actually have some positives (which are probably hard to see at the moment) after all the supermarket shelves were emptied by the selfish minority, people turned to the smaller local business. These are the key worker’s I want to focus on. They continue to be there for us so let’s try and be there for them in the future once normality is restored.
I want to highlight four local business in particular that underscores the old phrase ‘The Butcher the Baker the Candlestick maker’, just delete the last and insert Farm Shop and Deli!
This lovely little family butchers have been hit hard by current events; they supply a large number of restaurants with fine cuts of meat. They are situated in the Castlereagh hills www.rodgersmeats.co.uk and are easy to find. It is vitally important to support this business; they are small but you will be greeted with a smile; maybe by May herself. This spring chicken of a woman has boundless energy as she belongs to that generation that just gets on with it! While they only have a limited amount of meat on display, they have a large storage facility and can source pretty much anything you want. Furthermore, they have chickens in a large run outside the shop that supply fresh organic eggs.
The smell of fresh baked bread has, alongside brewing coffee, sold more houses than most estate agents. This little jewel of a bakery is located in Comber, Co Down. This is bread as it should be, or how it was many years ago. I recently attended a bread making course in Chipping Norton. It was fantastic, we all had a ball and learnt a lot. However, bread made by a professional baker makes mine look distinctly average! During these days of enforced isolation, I can think of nothing more appealing than a slice of warm toast with loads of butter and a cup of tea; we won wars on this stuff!! Demand from this small bakery outstrips supply and you have to get there in the morning to be in with any chance of getting a freshly baked loaf.
They also produce gorgeous cinnamon buns amongst other treats. Social distancing is practiced so pay a visit; you will not be disappointed.
The Farm Shop
This small shop located at 30 Main Street, Saintfield Co Down www.millbankfarm.com resembles many others in that they have their own farm. This means the emphasis is always on local and seasonal produce. We love that! They have taken it a step further however, they also supply pulses, soup vegetables, herbs and so much more. No plastic bags in this shop. Take your own container, weigh it, fill it and weigh again. It’s that simple. The staff are extremely helpful and they are also practicing social distancing (as you can see by the queue). So those of you lucky enough to live close by use them!
Our good old friends at Indie Fude, www.indiefude.com Laura and Jonny, continue to bring us joy via many delicious Irish artisan products. Indie Fude remains independent meaning they aren’t tied to any supplier, they have created a foodie’s paradise. We have mentioned them many times in videos and articles, because they simply believe in quality and always put their customers first. The variety of cheeses alone will keep you at the cheese counter smelling looking and tasting. Jonny is happy to let you sample whatever takes your fancy, and I bet you can’t get away from him without at least 2 Irish cheeses in your bag. He’s good!
The same adjectives, ‘Local & Seasonal’ come back again and again. You can buy a large range of treats here, so whilst we are still allowed to go out and shop, I strongly recommend a morale boosting visit to Indie Fude. It’s guaranteed to bring cheer to your day.
Wherever you live in the UK there will be shops, like the ones described here, in your local area. The supermarkets are playing a key role, but we must not forget these High Street businesses that work hard all year around to provide us with locally sourced produce. They can adapt faster, as shown by all the business above, offering vulnerable customers and those that have to isolate, home deliveries. They also bring a sense of community so I personally, view these people as key workers. Please support them.