In praise of the food producers, who work hail rain and snow

We forget that each time we eat, we owe our lives to the many who grow food

When is it too early to speak of Christmas? I would assume in March. But often we forget all of the planning that goes into such an event, particularly when it comes to food and the many small producers who depend on it.

Last week, I met Craig Brown, a small, free-range geese farmer who is getting things ready . . . for Christmas! The geese will arrive in May and everything needs to be ready for their arrival. And I thought I had it difficult. But producing a beautiful product takes time and free-range geese and turkeys are no different.

The snow of late took its toll on the many restaurants and cafes. However, we must remember the even greater toll it took on farmers, particularly the small ones, who cannot simply close for a day or two because of the snow.

We forget that each time we eat, we owe our lives to the many who grow food. All food comes at a price and it will take some time to get over probably the worst snow since 1982.

Despite the snow, March is a fallow month for produce. We’re still in the throes of kale in all it’s varieties. Though great in it’s greenness, I’m looking forward to green vegetables of a different nature, spring peas and baby spinach, baby nettles and new season herbs such as fennel and dill.

In the meantime, there’s loads of beautiful fish and shellfish in season, particularly cockles and clams. Though it may seem like a stretch, these work well with curly kale. Shellfish is a super easy food to cook and it’s the original fast food.

Dice an onion and a clove of garlic. Place in a pot with 250ml of white wine, 50g of butter and a bay leaf. When it comes to the boil, add your clams, cockles and a handful of diced kale. Cover and allow to steam for 1-2 minutes or until all the shellfish has opened. Discard any that don’t open and eat immediately.

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