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Stackyard News Jan 07

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Prime Minister launches CLA’s Just Ask campaign - do you know where the food on your plate comes from?

david milliband and tony blair

The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, Rt Hon David Miliband MP, Secretary of State for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and celebrity chef Lesley Waters from BBC's Ready, Steady, Cook, have today launched (Tuesday 9 January) the Country Land and Business Association's (CLA) Just Ask campaign at 10 Downing Street.

The CLA's Just Ask campaign will encourage the public to ask where the food on their plate comes from whenever they're out for a meal – whether in a hotel, restaurant, pub, canteen or fast food outlet. The campaign is designed to increase public awareness of the origin of food to enable people to make an informed choice about the food they eat.

David Fursdon, President of the CLA said: "Just Asking where the food on your plate comes from is the first step in raising awareness of British food. Too often a chef, waiter or proprietor won't know. We intend to change that and, in the process, use consumer pressure to help ensure that we end up with more British food on our plates, increasing the amount of local suppliers and producers in the UK food chain. British food ensures British farms and local producers have a future and can continue to provide the countryside we all enjoy."

Environment Secretary David Miliband said: "Whether you are eating in a roadside café or at a Michelin star restaurant I think there is something satisfying about knowing where the food on your plate comes from and the sense of connection that comes from eating local food."

Lesley Waters said: "We need to teach the next generation to care where their food comes from. Buying British food and sourcing local, seasonal produce insures that we have a viable farming industry which maintains the countryside we love. Why choose apples from South Africa when you could be choosing from a seasonal variety from Great Britain? This won't happen overnight it's going to be a slow-burn but we have to start somewhere."

Frank McKay, CEO, Brakes, said: "Brakes is pleased to support the 'Just Ask' campaign. As the UKs leading supplier to caterers and a major purchaser from British producers, we are committed to offering our customers products that are not only of the highest quality, but have the integrity and traceability behind them that enables caterers, and in-turn consumers to make an informed choice."

Ian Crawford, Group Commercial Director, 3663, said: "At 3663 we have been working hard to tackle the long-standing issue of providing locally sourced food to local people. Our initiative helps connect the chef and consumer with these local products. Chefs prefer to use local ingredients, but it has always been hard to make this a financially viable option. Every additional supplier adds a significant cost to a traditional wholesaling operation, in time, administration and deliveries into depot. Once the cost has been adjusted to accommodate these extra expenses, the availability of locally sourced goods becomes too expensive.

"We have found a way of handling local produce through food hubs, which limits additional costs and enables us to offer locally grown and locally made foods at competitive prices. In addition this will offer the benefits of full traceability and quality, plus a reliable source of supply."

Caroline Cranbrook, from Suffolk who was awarded an OBE for services to the red meat industry in 2006, said: "Consumers are asking for an informed choice. Mankind has been hunting and gathering for hundreds and thousands of years but we've only been shopping for food and eating out relatively recently and lost connection with the land. All the research I have done shows that the British consumer is anxious about their food and wants to be reconnected with food and where it comes from. What's interesting is that in the last year alone, I have found that people want to buy local food because of the food miles - this has risen rapidly to the top of their agenda as a new concern."

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