Posted: 7th September 2015
Held in the autumn at the same time as harvest festival, British Food Fortnight is the biggest annual, national celebration of British food and drink. It was established in the wake of the Foot and Mouth crisis, in response to the fact that, though there are numerous food initiatives, projects and events taking place across Britain, there was no overall flagship event to bring them to the public’s attention.
Since its beginnings in 2002, British Food Fortnight has become THE opportunity for those who work in any aspect of food and drink, to come together and promote the benefits of buying and eating from our home produced British larder. In setting a particular date range, it concentrate efforts across sectors.
Every year businesses and organisations across the UK take part, all enjoying the commercial benefits that participation brings. The public sector supports the event en masse with major hospitals and school catering services being involved. Wembley Stadium, Harrods, St Pancras train station, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Cabinet Office, the BBC, Buckingham Palace, National Trust and even Grey Gables Hotel in Radio 4′s The Archers are just a few of the famous establishments that have added their support.
Chef Raymond Blanc, TV gardener Chris Collins and Olivier Blanc explain why now is more important than ever to get involved in growing, cooking and celebrating home produce:
14 Things You Can Do During British Food Fortnight
It’s easy for anyone to take part in British Food Fortnight, whether in your community, online, or simply your own home. Even the smallest thing makes a big difference. Here are some ideas:
1. When you are shopping make a special effort to seek out British food. Pause when you select your food from the supermarket aisle. Look at the label. Does it tell you where the food has come from? Does it provide a description of who produced it? And if it is imported, is there a British equivalent in-season?
When looking to purchase products, keep an eye out for marks such as the Red Tractor logo
Visit our logos and marks page for further information on certification.
2. Enter a competition. Keep an eye on the Love British Food Facebook feed for some fantastic chances to win and encourage everyone who is organising a British Food Fortnight activity to enter our competition. Run in conjunction with the Telegraph, our annual search is for communities who are entering into the harvest spirit.
3. Shop in local butchers, greengrocers, farm shops and markets that source locally and will be able to tell you a little about the person who produced the food you are purchasing.
4. Join in online by telling us about your favourite British Food on Facebook and Twitter. There is a chance to WIN a Fortnum and Mason Mayfair Hamper so don’t forget to tag #LoveBritishFood to be in with a chance!
5. Seek out food in season – look for, for example, the English plum, marrow and squashes, which are in-season during British Food Fortnight. For more information about seasonal eating, see our What’s in Season page.
6. When next in the pub, team up a local beer with a local speciality for an authentic experience that reflects the character of the area where you live. Ask the pub staff to point you to local food on their menu and uncover a world of good pub grub.
7. Think beyond the chicken nugget when planning a family meal out. If there is not a good children’s menu ask for children-sized portions of the main menu.
8. Explore food from different regions of Britain as a fun way of experiencing our culture and heritage. Organisations like the National Trust make a special point of serving quality regionally distinct produce from local producers and find a B&B that sources local food. See our What’s Happening pages to find out foodie events worth visiting in different areas during British Food Fortnight.
9. Ask the caterers who provide the food for your staff or school restaurant if they will consider serving distinctly-British produce. This could take the form of a special seasonal section on the menu. More and more caterers are finding that if they form long-term relationships with suppliers and perhaps encourage small producers to form co-operatives it is possible to serve quality food in a mass catering environment.
10. Encourage teachers in your children’s school to run food-related activities during the Fortnight. There are a myriad of resources available for teachers, and many of them are listed in our Teacher Zone.
11. Cook a British meal for friends and family. Nothing beats the old favourites like Cottage Pie or Apple Crumble, and then sharing them with your loved ones. Consider inviting friends round for a British Food Fortnight feast or make a special effort to get the family sitting around the table.
12. Pick your own. What is better or healthier than being able to enjoy fresh fruit selected and picked by yourself? Rummage in the hedgerows for blackberries or visit a fruit and vegetable farm and then get pickling, jamming and freezing.
13. Grow your own. Eating food you have grown yourself – even if it is just a lettuce! – is immensely satisfying. Potatoes, herbs and carrots are easy to grow and you do not need much space to do so. Some can even be grown in hanging baskets and on windowsills!
14. Attend your local Harvest Festival. British Food Fortnight takes place at the time of Harvest Festival and do not need to be a regular church-goer, or have a particular faith, to take part in the celebration. Check out www.aharvestnearyou.com to find your local harvest service.