All you need is love

Love – it’s a funny word and possibly one of the most abused. Being male, it’s obviously one I try to avoid using in too many circumstances; particularly with regard to relationships. I think it was George Bernard Shaw (but I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong) who suggested something along the lines that he could spend little time with any woman who needed regular reminding of his love for her: “Look I told you once, in 1879. I think it was a Tuesday. Isn’t that enough?” And yet again it seems to be a necessary imperative, despite the fact that one doesn’t need continuously reminding that one is still 5’3″ tall and gorgeous – or ugly (delete as applicable).
My youngest daughter, when very young, picked up on the use of the word love; albeit in a particularly irritating fashion. If she overheard you using the word, she’d instantly enquire as to why you didn’t marry the object of your love. “If you love your car, why don’t you marry it?” “If you love red wine, why don’t you marry it?” “If you love that dress, why don’t you marry it?” I’m sure you get the picture. She was only three and it was quite funny the first time she said it. Cute the second time. Less so the third time. Dangerous for her the interminable following times. Social Services ensured she survived and she grew up ok over the years once returned to the family.
I was only 11 in 1967 during the Summer of Love so didn’t get the opportunity to romp around naked in fields of buttercups discovering said love. Despite that, The Beatles have been a particular influence in my life but I never bought in to the premise that all I needed was love. Beer and football are quite important as well. As are sticking plasters and aspirin. Unfortunately life’s never as simple as a pop lyricist makes out.
Despite all the misuse of the word, I’m involved with a major project that uses it in its name. Love Food is a four year initiative to encourage the use of local produce throughout the western half of County Durham. I’m part of a community organisation called Teesdale Marketing that’s running the project from the Tees to the North of the county. It’s designed, amongst other things, to teach children about cooking and where their food comes from, to help parents and cafes and B&Bs and small shops as to how to source local food and to explore how, with a little imagination, it needn’t be any more expensive. Then there’s loads of help and advice available to the growers and producers themselves. If you’re one such and wish to be pointed in the right direction, please get in touch.
It’s taken a few years but at Oldfields we now source nearly all our meat locally. I hasn’t been easy because there was little help available and it’s been a matter of educating ourselves in new practices, such as butchery and the logistics of collection, as well as helping to educate potential suppliers as to the best ways of working with us. There’s been plenty of mistakes and dead ends and it’s an on-going process. We now work with farmers and slaughterhouses and cheese makers and kitchen table-based preserve makers and all sorts of other producers. If you grow vegetables and would like to explore ways we might work together, we’d be very keen for you to get in touch.
So Love Food has similar aims. But there’s still a very long way to go; especially when you realise that, despite the growth of cookery programmes, magazines and books, fewer people cook as a percentage of the population than ever before. However, a low starting point is but a great opportunity.
So, back to George Bernard Shaw. Who am I to doubt the wisdom of such a great man when he was quoted as saying: “There is no sincerer love than the love of food”? Now, try explaining that to my wife.
If you wish to be put in touch with Love Food, drop an email to

28th Jan 2011

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