Dairy farmer Ed Andrew, Sheffield’s new Food Hero, is holding both a new award and his pitchfork aloft on behalf of farmers throughout the city.
The tough-talking, third generation farmer from Dungworth was given the title at the fourth Eat Sheffield awards on Monday in recognition for his championing of local produce.
But the word ‘local’ is guaranteed to get him hot under his overalls.
“The phrase ‘locally-sourced ingredients’ crops up on menus all the time and is my pet hate,” says Ed, 31. “It should be banned. It means nothing; where does local start and finish? There have been English restaurants exposed for describing produce they have bought from Scotland as local. And the public have started to realise that.
“If restaurants and cafes do use the abundance of fabulous food and drink farmers in Sheffield produce every day of their working lives, then why not be very specific about it? Why not name the farm it came from? “And if they aren’t buying their food from us, then they should be,” adds Ed, who fought to ensure this year’s Sheffield Food festival market featured only city produce – and worked to launch the Sheffield Good brand label this summer.
He knows how tough it is for a traditional farm to survive in cut-throat modern times.
“There are now only 210,000 dairy farmers in the UK. Three UK dairy farmers a day are giving up producing milk.
“When I was growing up, the dairy business my grandad Hector set up at Cliffe House Farm in 1947 was one of seven around Dungworth. Now we’re the only one.
“I feel like I’ve picked up the award on behalf of all the farmers around this city who are working damned hard to produce the best food – and to survive.”
“When my grandad first started delivering pints of milk in Sheffield, it had the same value as a loaf of bread and a pint of beer.
“Some 60 years on, supermarkets have driven the price of milk so low, it costs less than bottled water. How can that be right?”
In 2007, the Andrews decided they needed to bring in more money and began using their excess milk to make ice cream. The Our Cow Molly brand is now on sale at 30 Sheffield shops and restaurants.
Its success, he says, is proof that people do want to eat food virtually straight from the field. And that chefs and restaurant owners can play a huge part in keeping the farming tradition alive.