In a new initiative to help raise awareness of rural issues, The Country Alliance’s recent “host a roast” Celebration of British Food saw hundreds of events held across the country in support of local food producers.

Events ranged from mobile catering vans to a “roast a trout” event, where supporters fished for their supper.

Held on a weekend, which would have been many hunts’ opening, meets, there were hog roasts, barn dances and parties in country pubs.

The event was also marked in London with Jamie’s Bars running a fortnight’s celebration of small British food producers in all 17 of their restaurants throughout the City and the West End.

The initiative was supported by The Meat and Livestock Commission, The Guild of Q Butchers, The Game Dealers Association and Welsh lamb and beef promotions.

Together with a number of celebrities, including Tom Conti, Frederick Forsyth and Kenny Logan, the event was mostpoignantly marked in Cumbria where, in an area devastated by FMD, David Maclean MP and the Conservative peer Lord Inglewood joined the celebrations with a sing-song at the Hesket Newmarket pub.

Chief executive Richard Burge said: “The extent to which “Host A Roast” has captured people’s imagination this year has been heart-warming and is surely a reflection of the increasing awareness of rural issues and the need to support British producers, particularly in the wake of foot and mouth.

“We hope this initiative has helped strengthen local food networks and we urge people to continue to buy their food from their local farmers, butchers, greengrocers, cheese producers and farmers’ markets – it has never been more important to do so.”