JUST how far has the food in your – or your child’s – lunchbox travelled?

Do you have an apple from South Africa, cheese from Poland, pickles from Germany or juice from China?

Could you replace just one of those items with something local?

That’s the challenge being laid down by Hampshire Farmers’ Markets’ (HFM) Local Lunchbox initiative.

Switching to just one local item would do more than just reduce your carbon footprint and therefore your impact on global warming.

It would also help keep local farmers and other producers in business.

As well as keeping money in the local community rather than sending it overseas this also helps make Hampshire and the Isle of Wight more sustainable – so that if there was another volcanic ash cloud or if oil prices rocketed and cheap food imports weren’t available we would be OK.

And you also get to eat some tasty, fresh, healthy food!

As part of the initiative, HFM are inviting schools to sign up to the Local Lunchbox scheme. As well as getting access to resources and information, participating schools can also take part in an art competition.

Throughout October, they want all Hampshire children to go to school with at least one item of local food in their lunchbox. It could be a delicious apple, which are in season now, egg mayonnaise sandwiches made with tasty local free range eggs – or even the mayonnaise, bread and butter could be local – a cupcake from one of the farmers’ markets, carrot sticks – the list goes on.

As part of the scheme, HFM are seeking to raise awareness among children about where their food comes from. Recent studies have revealed that 37 per cent of children aged eight to 14 don’t know that cheese is made from milk and 36 per cent can’t identify the main ingredient in chips, while 60 per cent of school children think potatoes grow on trees.

Buying food at a farmers’ market gives you the chance to meet the person who grew, farmed or made the food you’re buying, so as well as being a great place to pick up some delicious treats and seasonal bargains, it can also be a fun place for children – and adults – to learn more about food.

There are plenty of opportunities to try food and drink for free as well as the chance to find out about where the food came from and how to prepare it.

Of course, it’s not just children who can pack local food for their lunch.

A recent survey found that a third of us spend £4 a day at work on lunch and snacks. Making your own lunch – and adding some local treats while you’re at it – could save you a packet!

You can buy local food at Hampshire Farmers’ Markets as well as in a wide range of farm shops, delicatessens and independent shops.