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Shop for Scotland and support our food and drink firms


By Nicky Marr


I’m not long back from hosting the annual conference of Scotland Food and Drink in Edinburgh, and goodness, I feel proud. This small nation of ours punches well above her weight in terms of food and drink production, and with an annual turnover of almost £15 billion, the industry is a huge contributor to the Scottish economy.

But I don’t just feel proud of where we are – I feel proud of the industry’s stated ambition to double that turnover to £30 billion by 2030, particularly in the face of so much uncertainty over Brexit.

The food and drink industry is vital to the rural economy. In addition to farming, the whisky and seafood industries provide well-paid jobs in outlying and island communities, keeping schools populated and towns and villages vibrant.

Even our much maligned weather has a part to play; the rain that ruined your weekend walk helps to grow crops to eat and grass to feed livestock, and to fill streams with the soft water that our distilleries need.

The Macallan Visitor Centre, Aberlour.
The Macallan Visitor Centre, Aberlour.

And while the sea might be chilly for swimming (unless you like those post-swim all-over-tingles as much as I do) our waters are teeming with top-quality fish and shellfish that send chefs into raptures. All that says nothing of our top notch producers – Moray Speyside is blessed not just with whisky, but with Walkers and Baxters too.

The quality of Scotland’s produce is prized across the globe. A no-deal Brexit, should Boris get his way, will make it harder for the industry to attract essential European staff, and to export to our existing markets in France, Germany and Spain. But while politicians argue, the industry is getting on with the day job. It’s also courting emerging export markets in Italy, India and south-east Asia.

And while it’s vital for the industry to export, Scottish produce must also be celebrated at home. Last week’s conference revealed that there is real national pride in home-grown produce, with 68 per cent of Scottish shoppers saying they were more likely to buy Scottish branded goods, and 32 per cent of UK shoppers looking for a ‘Made in Scotland’ sign. And although that UK figure is a smaller percentage, it translates to a mighty 16.9 million shoppers.

I am just back from France, where the supermarket shelves seemed almost entirely stocked with French goods. There was a choice of half a dozen brands of butter, and each one was French. In contrast, the UK brand leader is Lurpak, made in Denmark from Danish milk. All the cheeses in the chill cabinet were French and all the meat and seafood, with the exception of Scottish salmon, were French too.

They say that charity begins are home, but business should too. Taking the example of the French, making tiny tweaks to our shopping habits in favour of Scottish produce could make Scotland Food and Drink’s ambition of a £30 billion industry by 2030 just a tiny bit easier.

So, shop for Scotland! Your taste buds will thank you too.

Second-hand news

We are over halfway through Second-hand September, and so far, so good. In fact – better than good; since I became aware of the campaign in June, I have only bought one new item of clothing, a bright green jacket that I’ll be wearing until it falls apart.

I have also decluttered and donated, and taken skirts and a jacket that never quite fitted properly to the tailor. I’m looking forward to adding them back into my wardrobe – this time as clothes I will actually wear.

The inspiration came from Oxfam’s campaign to encourage us to be mindful about throwaway fashion. Our collective desire for cheap clothes is decimating the Earth’s water resources and contributing to modern slavery, and over 11 million items of clothing end up in landfill every year.

But this shouldn’t just be for September, and it’s not about us stopping clothes shopping altogether, heaven forbid.

As the name suggests, Second-hand September should have us regularly rummaging through our local pre-loved and charity shops. If anything, a second-hand bargain is even more of a thrill than finding something new. There’s the saving on your wallet, of course, plus the benefit of finding something unique… and then there’s the magical bit. Who wore it last? Where did they go in it? What was their story?

My favourite second-hand clothes, though, are the ones I don’t even need to leave the house to acquire. With both our Marr girls living away from home, their left-behinds (not trendy enough for twenty-somethings in Glasgow) are mine for the taking.

No drawbacks at all – except they keep catching me out on Instagram…



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