The Somerset Levels look like becoming the next foodie destination, with the launch this Saturday of Levels’ Best by Henrietta Green, the pioneer of British food. So far, 19 producers qualify for the project’s logo. Elaine Spencer-White, the manager, defines the entry criteria: ‘Meat and poultry must be from native breeds farmed on the Levels, fish and game caught or shot there, and the rest harvested or produced from verifiable local sources all with a minimum of food miles and to the highest standards set by external bodies such as the Soil Association.’
There are an astonishing 100 breeds offered by the scheme and farmed on the 260 miles of the Levels, including White Park and Longhorn cattle; Whiteface Woodland and Manx Loghtan lamb; Tamworth and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs; and poultry such as Scots Dumpy, Andalusian and Maran hens. Red, roe and fallow deer also join the list. Miss Spencer-White adds that the project is ‘less of a brand than a lifestyle philosophy’, with traceability as a major feature. ‘I expect it to become a source of education as well as a beacon of quality.’ Happily, those not on the Levels will also be able to buy food via the website at www.levelsbest.co.uk
Pick of the crop: beef from Rob Whitcombe of Westhay; organic spelt wheat from Sharpham Park; vegetables from Bower Hinton Farm; ewe’s-milk cheese from North Wootton Organic Dairy; clotted cream and yoghurt from Rookery Farm; cider from Hecks, Burrow Hill and Rich’s; and organic fruit wines from Avalon Vineyard.