Food for thought in West Lothian

So to Linlithgow Farmers’ Market, with West Lothian Greens, on Saturday past and the first day of rain for ages!  Good for the fields, I suppose…..

Go to any town the size of Linlithgow in France, Italy, Spain or, indeed, many other European countries and producers’ markets are very much the norm.

Ten years ago, though, in Scotland, you would have been hard-pushed to find any in Scotland.  That a modest-sized town like Linlithgow can now support a bustling monthly market (in spite of the rain) is certainly progress.

I would not want to be naive about it.  Linlithgow’s busy high street with a plethora of independent shops shows it to be a town whose residents still feel connected to local retailers, even with a supermarket at the east end of the high street.  Farmers markets are likely to do better in those contexts.  Other towns have fared less well. And, even as farmers markets have re-established themselves at the margin, the largest supermarkets have tightened their stranglehold over the food retail market.

I want to see a better balance between local retailers and the giant chain stores.  I want to see farmers and other producers get a better deal from the retailers.  And I’m against monopolies in food sales just as much as in any other market. I’ve argued as much as a Green councillor and I would do the same if elected as a Green MSP.

In the meantime, it was good to be in Linlithgow for a while, competing (nicely, of course) with the SNP’s Fiona Hyslop for time with voters but watching the market fill up nicely with children all waving their green windmills enthusiastically.