A DENSTONE farm shop showed heavyweight MP Eric Pickles the best of the county’s produce as it took part in an event at the House Of Commons.
Mr Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, tucked into the Staffordshire Sizzler sausage when he visited a stand belonging to Denstone Hall Farm Shop and Cafe.
The event took place in the Jubilee room, inside Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament and had been organised by Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher, along with Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths and Abbots Bromley MP Michael Fabricant, to demonstrate the range and quality of locally produced food in Staffordshire to their parliamentary colleagues.
A succession of MPs and political figures visited over the course of the day, including Mr Pickles, John Bercow, the Speaker of the House, defence secretary Phillip Hammond and Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Rupert Evans, who has run Denstone Hall Farm Shop with his wife, Emma, for six years, had a range of produce on display, including home-cured bacon, the shop’s own-label beer and the Staffordshire Sizzler, which won the title of Midlands Best Banger three years ago and took Mr Pickles’ fancy on the day.
Mr Evans said: “There was certainly a buzz around the room when Mr Pickles came in, he is a larger-than-life character and was very interested in what we were doing.
“Earlier in the week I’d read an article where he’d said even brushing past Shropshire Blue Cheese made him put on weight. I quickly reassured him that we didn’t have any blue cheese on our stand! He laughed, and then asked me all about the farm shop.
“He then wished me luck, shook my hand and moved on, although not without trying a Staffordshire Sizzler sausage before he left.”
Mr Griffiths, Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley, Stoke North MP Joan Walley and Tristram Hunt, MP for Stoke Central, also attended the event, which Mr Evans said offered the county an excellent opportunity to fly the flag for Staffordshire fare.
He said: “All the producers in that room gave up their time for the good of the county which reinforces just how passionate we are about putting Staffordshire on the UK food map.
“It was tremendous to be able to show off our produce and talk directly to the country’s MPs about the great food scene that we have here, so we are very grateful for Mr Pincher for arranging the event.
“It would be great if more people came to Staffordshire to find out how good our locally produced food is.
“Offering good food has boosted the economies of counties such as Yorkshire, Devon and Norfolk – I believe the variety and quality of our food equals, if not rivals, theirs, so it was fantastic to have been given a platform from which to shout about it.”
The Advertiser reported last month how Mr Evans was urging people to buy local in the wake of the supermarket horsemeat scandal, a scandal which escalated further last week.
He said: “I sincerely hope that this affair makes consumers question the source of their meat and encourages them to visit their local farm shop or butcher in the future.”