Meet Scott from Scott Stewart – Blackburn Market
Scott started the company in back 2004. He bought a vegetable delivery service in Darwen, then went onto run a stall on Darwen market for a short time before moving over to Blackburn when opportunity came up.
Scott reminisced about when he was a child and how his mother very rarely used a supermarket but bought food from local shops including having a milk delivery service. “That’s just how it was back then- we were concerned about quality and price and got the best deal from buying from who you knew sold quality produce. Over time we have been indoctrinated into thinking food should be cheap. But we have lost our way in that we have forgotten that we are what we eat.”
He recalls his early days in the van back in Darwen and one of his oldest customers “An elderly lady who had several health challenges. I would pull up and she would climb in the van and select her produce- we got friendly and she told me she had been to visit a dietician as she was getting increasingly ill , taking more medication and not seeing any improvement. They had recommended a change in diet, particularly to increase her intake of cherries. She had followed the advice, bought more than she needed throughout the summer and froze them to last her out of season. Within a year she was walking without her zimmer frame and was a different lady to who I had first met in my van. This is when it hit home to me that food should be your medicine” I am putting in a disclaimer here that Scott is not giving any medical advice! Merely recalling one of many conversations with his customers around food and health.
So Scott Stewart has been the fruit and vegetable seller on Blackburn market since 2011. Over that time he has seen many changes and challenges. The majority of his customers used to be the elderly but now it’s a younger clientele and mostly young families who are health conscious and would rather pay a little more knowing they are getting a better quality product that they would if they shopped at the supermarkets. “These people are lucky I suppose because they can afford it. Or maybe they just prioritise their food budget over other things. The thing is yes we are more expensive than a supermarket, but we pay the farmers what they want. We cannot and will not even try to compete with the supermarkets. But when it comes down to food shortages, you wont experience that with us, because we are paying what the farmers are asking for. When the tomato shortage hit, we still had tomatoes but they were more expensive. Peppers even went up to £30 a box!!”
“But lets remember it doesn’t have to be more expensive. You can come to me and buy two satsumas instead of buying a full bag in the supermarket and less likely to be adding to the food waste problem we have “
Scott remains positive however as he feels he is starting to see slow changes. He is seeing more people asking about where his produce comes from and they’re coming back because he claims his produce is superior to the supermarket . Scott explained about English apples “So apparently the lack of demand for English apples meant that most of our home grown apples were only used for cider and as such the growers make supply and demand decisions. Now we are seeing more people take an interest in food miles and buying at least British, we will see more good quality apples being produced”
Scott said although times are challenging now, he is optimistic about the future. “The thing is now that the supermarkets simply cannot control the price anymore like they have for the past 30 years or so, the farmers will get to choose who they sell to and get a fair price, which is how it should work. That simply means however you will be paying more for your quality produce.”
Thank you Scott for taking the time to talk with me. I have learnt a lot about the challenges in the food system from a market trader perspective. Thank you also for your kind offer of support in our new campaign around seasonal eating called “Seasonal Community Cook Ups”
The stall is open 6 days a week and also offers a delivery service across Blackburn, Darwen and Egerton.
Scott doesn’t really do social media so to find out more about Scott Stewart or sample their produce visit them on Blackburn Market. Or call the stall on 01254 669235