Over the Christmas and New Year period we often celebrate with plentiful amounts of food and drink. However, how often do we think about how they arrive at the table, or think about our food and farming industries?
I challenge you all to stop and consider how much we know about our food. How active are we in finding out what’s actually involved in getting it to our homes and what nutrition it offers... what we are eating and where it comes from?
There are other issues too, such as social responsibility and the carbon footprint.
As a parent myself, I want to make sure I buy high quality food for my family and I know Scottish producers provide this. I have confidence in what they grow and I put a high value on the peace of mind that gives.
Additionally, in a world where obesity is increasingly an issue, I encourage you to look at your diet and make healthy choices. We all need to take that responsibility.
Seasonal produce is inexpensive, incredibly nutritious and convenient. Not only does it save money, its taste is unbeatable – just think of strawberries bursting with flavour as an example.
When I shop for Scottish produce I also know it’s good for our economy. It provides income for growers, distributors, and retailers which in turn has a positive impact on the all-important tourist industry.
Also do not forget that the farming practices of generations have carved our landscape – something millions of people, from all over the world, travel to Scotland to enjoy. By supporting agriculture-related businesses we help them to maintain and protect our beautiful scenery.
On to the issue of carbon footprints. 2016-17 was the highest on record for global emissions, and we all need to take an individual responsibility in trying to reverse this trend.
A lifestyle choice like buying locally produced food is one easy change.
Finally, the days are just beginning to get longer again, the growing season is upon us. I want to encourage everyone to be proud of what we produce in Scotland, and to appreciate fully the quality of food we offer. Engage with the producers, ask questions of your local farmers, visit markets, butchers, look on social media or come to the Royal Highland Show on the outskirts of Edinburgh in June and see for yourself.
There are some amazing stories to be told and you may just find you enjoy these new experiences and go away much better informed.
I hope I have inspired you to reflect on what you buy and eat, and make the decision to support our great nation of food producers.
For more information visit: http://www.royalhighlandshow.org/ and https://www.rhet.org.uk/
Alan Laidlaw, chief executive of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland