…isn`t about local food. But it really has taught me a massive amount about local food.
The show is sort of a documentary, part reality (in truly the best sense) and part educational. I haven`t seen the entire thing but I can`t reccomend it highly enough.
Turn Back Time: The High Street is a six episode mini-series takes a few UK families and pits them as shopkeepers on a real street in the UK – though the 6 episode cover how their business would grow, succeed, shrink and struggle from the 1870s to the 1970s. Each episode picks a decade and the show demonstrates how the local shopkeeper and their emphasis on service and relationships got replaced by a search for lower prices and cheaper fare.
One of the most amazing facts that I learned was that shops had controlled prices until 1964. When the UK decided to allow shop keepers to set their own prices (largely in response to large supermarkets), the small shop keepers started a quick demise. The documentary sees local shop keepers (with real stores and real customers) experience the struggles and success that their real-life predecessors experienced 50 years ago. It’s stunning to see people near tears as their local store closes down due to lack of business – even though they had stopped supporting them in exchange for lower prices.
There’s a lot of food in the show too. The decline of the butcher, rationing during war-time and even the first imports of delicacies from far away. There is a balanced story telling which shares the excitement of the arrival of new foods (like olive oil and garlic) with the impact on the local food supply, the demise of the butcher and the overall culture of a community which is replaced by commodity.
This fantastical trailer is fun though is nothing like the show (You-Tube has many clips):
The BBC is taking the experiment on tour. Towns across the UK are being visited by “pop up” stores from across history. People can interact with “shop keepers” and draw their own conclusions to where we’ve arrived – and where we could be.