Stuart Meade and Ruth Dermott, of Ballaugh farm Red Mie, are encouraging Islanders to join their #ManxMarch campaign on social media. Lucy Verdon, DEFA's Food Marketing Executive, explains more:
The Facebook group has been created as a local community hub for members to share recipe ideas and find local suppliers and for Manx producers to promote their products.
The community has grown in popularity over the past few weeks and has almost 2000 members.
At its heart, we can all appreciate that eating local means celebrating that the best flavours are from home.
Behind this campaign is the ethos that, while March is typically a leaner month in terms of the abundance of locally grown produce, if we can tackle this challenge now then we can do so at any time of the year.
#ManxMarch aims to focus Islanders’ efforts by encouraging us to eat as sustainably and locally as possible from 16th to 23rd March.
So just what is available this season? Many members have found this guide useful to stick on their fridge as a reminder of the variety of produce available on our doorstep.
March symbolises the start of spring and typically boasts the following fantastic foods:
Fruit and veg: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, artichokes, leeks, purple sprouting broccoli, radishes, spinach, chard and mushrooms
Seafood: Lobster, crab, whelks, pollock, monkfish, king and queen scallops
Meat: Enjoy a treat of new season spring lamb or a delicious rib-eye, fillet or rump of beef
Where can I find it?
The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture has a website dedicated to Isle of Man food and drink.
It contains an online directory broken down by category which showcases the immense variety of local producers on our precious Island.
What can I do with it?
First things first, join the Facebook group #ManxMarch if you are looking for some culinary inspiration. This growing community is sharing recipe ideas every single day; from farmers, butchers and food producers to the general public, someone will be on hand to help if you are not sure where to start.
But mostly, be brave!
Try substituting ingredients in some of your staple dishes with one or two items of locally grown produce. Head to the Isle of Man Farmers’ Market, Bry Rad’s Veg Shed or perhaps farm shops such as Close Leece Farm in Patrick and the Manx section at Robinson’s on Cooil Road.
Make a conscious effort to check labels; look out for the Isle of Man Provenance label which indicates produce that is grown, reared, caught and/or processed in the Isle of Man and/or contains mostly Manx ingredients.
Its creation forms part of DEFA’s Food Matters strategy to grow the value of Isle of Man food and drink to the economy. 700 products currently bear the ‘Product of’ and ‘Made in’ Provenance labels and can be found here. Essentials such as bread, flour, butter, milk, eggs, cheese and potatoes are usually the easiest place to start as they are widely available in supermarkets across the Island.
Why should I join in?
Food matters to our economy, our Biosphere, our environment, our people and our future. Did you know that every £1 spent on Manx food is worth £1.83 to the Manx economy versus 58p with a non-local business?
Supporting local farmers, fishermen, producers and retailers by buying local food and drink nourishes our people, our community and the place in which we live.
Supporting this campaign (throughout March and beyond) will go a long way towards protecting and nurturing our Biosphere for future generations if we continue to seek provenance, demand traceability and make sustainable choices.