With local farmers struggling in the consumer marketplace, one initiative offers some protection. Tom Vaughan reports from the Cottage Lodge hotel on its New Forest Breakfast
Pigs scoffing acorns just down the road, then ending up on your plate of a morning - wasn't that how an English breakfast was originally supposed to be? That was until bacon started coming in from Denmark, and tomatoes from Spain and fruits from anywhere sunnier than our unpredictable climes.
In the New Forest, smallholders known as Commoners have reared pigs, cows and ponies since as far back as William the Conqueror. But with their small numbers of livestock they struggle to compete in today's retail market.
Following the catastrophic foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001, the New Forest Marque was introduced under the management of a company called New Forest Produce. It is granted to produce reared or grown entirely within the local area. The New Forest Breakfast was devised by the company to forge links between small tourism businesses and local producers.
The idea was to show hospitality businesses where to source their produce from to support local farmers.
More than 30,000 of these breakfasts are now sold each year - 5,000 of them at the Cottage Lodge hotel in Brockenhurst. All of the hotel's breakfasts, whether priced at £7.50 or included with the room, carry the label and all the ingredients are sourced from within 10 miles of the hotel.
Jams and marmalades come from Setley Ridge Vineyard down the road blueberries are picked in the local forest and frozen for smoothies while the cooked offering is all from local animals. Sausages, back bacon and streaky bacon comes from pigs reared at Owls Barn in Sopley, eggs from C&S Atyeo & Sons in Ashley, and tomatoes from Turvells in Pennington.Mushrooms are cultivated by Merry Orchard in Cowsfield.
All the produce's whereabouts are listed on the Cottage Lodge's menu, and contact details for local farmers' markets are also provided.
Who knows when the modern English breakfast first came to popularity in the New Forest? But you can bet that when it did, it tasted something like this.
Is yours the best breakfast?
In association with Heinz, Caterer will be selecting an annual Best Breakfast from those featured in the Breakfastwatch column, with the winner to be announced at our spring Chef Conference in May.
To qualify, you must run a breakfast menu with a cooked offering. The sponsor's judges will be looking for food selection, healthiness and value, among other criteria.
To put forward a menu, send it and any supporting information to email@example.com.
Read more from Caterer‘s Breakfastwatch at www.caterersearch.com/breakfast