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Home » Editor's Pick, Features

Crumbs of Sussex

Published by on Sunday, 15 November 2009No Comment

Crumbs of Sussex's Cheese SelectionEvery day there seems to be an increasing number of supermarket food delivery vans in the city. Apparently there are a large number of residents who for whatever reason must rely on this type of delivery service to bring groceries directly to their own door step.

However though the main supermarkets are able to offer a wide choice, have user friendly websites and alleviate the struggle of transporting heavy purchases, when it comes to the food itself, they are often unable to offer anything from local producers. This is because the big supermarkets buy on an enormous national scale and primarily on price, so small local suppliers rarely get a look in. Yet as consumers, when we buy locally produced food and drink, we are directly supporting small scale, environmentally friendly farming practices and the local economy, as well as getting much fresher and great tasting food, so I suspect that given the choice, most people would support ‘local’ every time.

I was therefore delighted, at the recent City Food Festival, to meet Simon Croft, who together with his business partner James Meldrum set up Crumbs of Sussex in 2005. They were determined from the beginning to run Crumbs in such a way that residents in this part of Sussex could support a wide range of local suppliers, either by visiting Crumbs’ own fresh food shop at “Shoots Garden Centre” or alternatively by using their home delivery service.

Crumbs of SussexBefore opening Crumbs, they spent seven months doing taste and quality research and meeting and interviewing over 120 food producers in Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Kent, with the aim of sourcing really fresh high quality produce, ideally from within a 20 mile radius of their shop, depending on the season.

However, uniquely, they also wanted to pass this information on directly to the consumer, so they designed a clear and transparent colour coded labelling system starting with ‘Low Food Miles’ ranging from as little as 0.5 miles, out to 70 miles, though the average distance from suppler to shop is around 20 miles. These product labels are on everything they sell and also detail the name and background of the producer. Obviously there are times of the year when they do have to source some produce from outside the ‘local’ counties radius, but this too has its own coloured ‘UK’ label. Despite global warming, nobody has yet cracked the growing of exotic fruits like bananas in the UK, so occasionally they have to use an ‘overseas’ source in order to maintain a good range particularly during winter months.

However during the summer months over 90% of the fresh food they sell has been supplied from within the ‘Crumbs Low Food MIle’ formula – just compare this with the estimate from the author Felicity Lawrence in her book “Not on the Label”, highlighting the fact that the contents of the average UK shopping basket have travelled around 20,000 miles!

Crumbs has undoubtedly the most mouthwatering and comprehensive range of foods. Whether you want to buy fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, cheeses, preservatives, breads and pastries,beverages or juices, frankly you are spoilt for choice. They offer no fewer than 50 cheeses, (50% supplied by 9 local cheesemakers) a great range of locally sourced smoked fish, a wonderful dairy and chilled food section, and their range of fruit and vegetables would not be out of place in the best French markets. In 2006, they even launched  their own growing operation at Wiston House, near Steyning, in about 3/4 of an acre of the Walled Garden.

I very much admire the obvious hard work, dedication and commitment that Simon and James have shown in their support of local quality producers, which has made Crumbs a genuinely unique food emporium. Furthermore everything they stock in the shop can be ordered from their website and delivered to your door in Brighton on either Thursday or Friday each week.

If you want to visit them in person, the shop (Open Monday to Saturday 9am – 5pm) is at “Shoots Garden Centre”, (off A24 North carriageway 500 yards from Washington Roundabout) Washington, West Sussex. Tel: 01903 892527.

Otherwise why not relax and have everything home delivered like your favourite magazine!

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