This is the first in a series of blog posts by our Development Chef Robbie Gleave, showcasing our local suppliers. In this post, Robbie asks some honest questions about what it means to use local produce as part of the Scottish food industry and the positive impact this has on our environment.

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Local means, “belonging or relating to a particular area or neighbourhood”. So…what’s around us in our home of East Lothian? Who is in our neighbourhood? What can we use? When is it available? Why should we use it?

When I joined the team, I asked myself: What is the current philosophy? What should it be? Do we and our suppliers all share the same values?

We all talk about having a local supplier network, but it’s time to be a bit more honest about how many of our ingredients are from our neighbourhood.  We need to ask ourselves if we are driven to encourage and support our local producers by a passion and desire to do the right thing, or if we are more concerned about the finances.

We may very well use a supplier or distributor that is within a few miles of our base, (great – we’ve ticked that box!) but where do they collect from? How do we know?

The answer is: we don’t always know. Not unless we deal with every producer directly in order to guarantee the finest and freshest and least travelled ingredients. And realistically – is that practical, affordable, manageable?

Honestly – finding the local supply chain and ingredients is hard work and time consuming. Working through the practicalities of good supply, ensuring that the ingredients themselves are worthy of the effort, finding out the backgrounds and learning about the full process. Knowing your food. Knowing it has been nurtured and cared for. Appreciating the journey. And on top of this, our efforts need to add value to our brand and support our commitment to a greener environment. This is one of the main aspects of my job, and whilst I enjoy getting to know our supply chain, it is not an easy task – but it is something I am totally passionate about.

Part of the Hickory food philosophy is most definitely committing to developing a relationship and partnership with our local producers and suppliers wherever it is possible. To get to know them. Recognise that they too need to make a profit to be a sustainable source. Respect and appreciate. Don’t take all things for granted. Use great produce. Eat local. Know your food.

The local thing isn’t just a trend-setting bandwagon we can get on and off: we are already on it. It’s a one way journey – no return ticket available. Philosophy is an ideal…so let’s be ambitious. Let’s commit to doing what we can, when we can. The more we want to do – the more we can do.

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Look out for Robbie’s next post: Rapeseed Oil: a Case for the Local Cause