Dorset Food & Drink

Shopping local could save your bacon (and turkey) this Christmas

It is hard to stay away from the constant news that our supplies might run low this Christmas.

A brutal combination of the Pandemic and Brexit has caused a string of issues in the run up to Christmas including a shortage of workers available to help and a reduction in the number of drivers to help haul the products. Supermarket chains are already encouraging consumers to plan ahead, and fear that the shelves may be empty come December.

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A different story

It is quite a different picture however, when you speak directly to our army of small local producers and farmers.

Dorset has at least three large turkey farms, and I spoke to Chilcott Turkeys near Dorchester to find out how their 2021 season looked. They rear free range turkeys using traditional methods, and they have reared their usual numbers this year, fulfilling their regular butcher orders as well as direct orders from customers.

They opened their order books two weeks earlier than usual and demand is already high. Their advice to customers is if you already know the size of turkey you’ll need, go ahead and order now via their website.

That has been the advice from many local businesses I spoke to. James Sealey from the Jurassic Coast Farm Shop:

“We have secured plenty of turkeys from our local farmers; customers shouldn’t feel panicked. If everyone purchases from their local butchers and farm shops then there shouldn’t be any problems, as most suppliers will take pre-orders to guarantee a turkey for the festive table. Supermarkets may struggle to cope with their much larger volumes as there will almost definitely be staff shortages when processing the turkeys on the large scale production systems. To pre-order your Christmas Turkey and all the trimmings from us, just visit jurassiccoastfarmshop.co.uk

Not just turkey

The same goes for our award winning vineyards in Dorset too. The growing conditions in Dorset are similar to some of the best wine regions in the world and our wines have recently been winning some of the world’s top accolades. If you are looking to source some special wines for your Christmas table then do find your local vineyard or your local independent wine shop to grab a great tasting bottle or two.

It’s a community

Our local producers, suppliers, growers and farmers have been working hard throughout another difficult year to continue to create their beautiful product for our kitchens and dining tables. Many of them also work together to limit the supply chain even further. Peter Morgan from The Book & Bucket Cheese Company sources his sheep and cow’s milk directly from local farms, and has worked closely with both his suppliers and his wholesale customers throughout the pandemic. It has helped him keep an abundance of cheese on the shelves.

Peter says “This year as a whole has been very challenging in relation to buying milk, cultures and packaging. The key thing has been sourcing as much locally as we can, and working directly with the farmers. We supply many local retail outlets in Dorset, and work directly with a huge amount of local chefs who contact us to develop menus based around our cheese.”

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Many local businesses have already opened their order books for Christmas. If you would like to shop locally for your festive feasting this year, then here are some resources to help:

  • Dorset Foodie Feed has a list of local farms across Dorset who offer services to order direct, as well as a directory of over 650 local businesses (you can find your local wine shop or vineyard too). https:// dorset.foodiefeed.co.uk/ buy-local-meat/
  • Your local farm shop will probably have a special Christmas selection so you can not only order your meat, but also the trimmings too.
  • Your local shops – the butcher, greengrocer, bakery etc. Many will already have an order book open for all your Christmas goods, from Christmas cakes to your roasting potatoes.

By Heather Brown

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