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Cairngorms food and drink boost

6th September 2010

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is stepping up its commitment to the food and drink sector in the Park with the approval of the Food for Life development plan with £55,000 worth of funding to help implement the initiative.

The move was approved by the CNPA’s board at its most recent meeting (Friday 3 September) in Ballater.

Research by VisitScotland has shown that there is increasing consumer demand for locally produced food and drink. The Food for Life project aims to increase food production across the Park, increase consumption of locally produced food, reduce food miles, boost the tourism sector and develop stronger links between the food and drink industry, tourism, retail and land management sectors through the medium of food and drink.

Addressing members at the meeting, Chris Bremner, the CNPA’s Sustainable Economy Manager said: “The Food for Life concept offers distinct advantages by bringing together economic, education, social and environmental activities in a coordinated way. There are long-term benefits to be gained including health improvement, skills development and employment, business diversity, increasing retention of wealth and carbon reduction through localised food chains.

“The Food for Life plan is closely aligned with the Scottish Government’s National Food Policy and can help us meet some of the goals set out in the National Park Plan. Implementing the plan will take up both time and financial resources but the key to making this efficient but effective will be delivering it in a coordinated way with partners.

“An application has been made to the EU-funded LEADER programme – which has already committed funds to the production of a producers’ directory – and we know that the Cairngorms Local Action Group is keen to support other local food and drink initiatives.”

One of the earliest actions of the Food for Life plan will be the establishment of a Food Group, made up of enthusiastic producers, chefs, processors and public sector representatives who will be able to provide an oversight to the project and ensure connections are made with wider national and regional policy developments. The first meeting of the Food Group is planned for later this month.

CNPA Board Member Richard Stroud said: “I’m impressed by the Food for Life concept and firmly believe the Park Authority should be behind our food and drink producers in the Park. I’m particularly struck by the education initiatives in schools, getting our young people interested in where our food comes from, cooking and eating local produce. I’m excited by the opportunities they will continue to have to learn that the Cairngorms is a very special place with some very special produce.”

Also at the meeting was Dr Eleanor Logan, Head of Soil Association Scotland, who added: “We are delighted the CNPA chose to adopt the principles of Food for Life Scotland as a framework for reducing the environmental impact of food and growing a sustainable food economy. Food for Life is also about transforming food culture through inspiring people across the Cairngorms to eat what is produced in their area and take time to enjoy cooking it. For some this might also mean getting more involved in growing their own or even setting up community markets. This is a real opportunity for the Cairngorms to not only lead the way in delivering a more sustainable approach to what we eat but also inspire all of us to Eat Well and Eat Local.”