I’ve just eaten the perfect pear, and it came from our local butcher’s shop.
If I had bought this in France, Italy or Spain, it would be unremarkable, but in the context of the UK, I think it points the way to a possible future for our food system. Our local butcher (Tom) runs a modest side shop on a side street, where he focuses on serving the community locally produced meat. The proposition is simply presented, he doesn’t parade it, but he only sells free-range chicken, ask and he’ll tell you where all the red meat comes from – not far away.
The latest innovation is that he also sells local, sometimes organic, fruit and vegetables from a network of small-scale producers. This network provides a range of produce that includes the staples of spuds, carrots, green veg but also seasonal fruit and that is where the pears appeared. I think this tracks its way back to a local food charity Halff. This group focus on food skills, including cooking and nutrition but linking it to locally produced food. Again with little fanfare, they are spreading their network, making sure that people find it where they shop without the associations of social status that so often hampers the local and healthy eating message.
As for the pear, it had a great taste, wonderfully ripe – benefitting from not being endlessly chilled. My only fear is that I’ll have to wait until next year to see one so good – but that is the joy of the seasonal.