Taking your pig to market was abandoned long ago by most people, but the beasts have continued to turn up on our plates - via industrial abattoirs, vacuum-packing and supermarket lorries. Ten years ago, the middle class loved this arrangement, and the idea of fleeing the sleek rotisserie counter to go back to basics was unthinkable. But these same folk have now gone 'natural', spending Sunday mornings out in a cold car park picking over dirty caulis and mould-covered Welsh hillsheep cheese (most of which costs three times as much as at Sainsbury's). Why? Conscience has forced its pernickety way into the shopping trolley. It's cool to care about food's origin and taste - not to mention the numbers of Air Miles it has clocked-up - rather than just buying your burgers and bog-roll in one go. As a result, the number of UK farmers' markets has shot up, from one in 1997 - in Bath - to more than 500, bringing about £200 million a year into local economies. This is part of a £2 billion direct food industry that includes farm shops, 'pick your own' schemes, veggie boxes and no middleman.
According to research by the National Farmers' Retail & Markets Association, 88% of UK households are keen to use direct food. If farmers could grow their own pasta, pesto and pet food, perhaps we'd be free from Leahy's legions. But it's a positive step for us and for farmers. Not the Good Life yet, but getting better.