In the wake of the the NT ‘buy British mistletoe’ campaign this week you might be wondering how you can, confidently, buy British. And you might also like to spend a few minutes completing the new online questionnaire on where you buy your mistletoe, as data from that can help secure the future of the British crop.
So how do you buy British mistletoe? Well, there are three main options, buying local, buying in a supermarket and buying by mail-order.
Local: From independent greengrocers, farmers markets and roadsides stalls. Only reliably British if you’re in, or near to, ‘Mistletoe Country’ (Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire or Somerset). Outside these areas any unlabelled mistletoe could be from anywhere.
Though there are honourable exceptions. The picture shows mistletoe being sold at Cotehele, a National Trust property in Cornwall, well beyond the usual mistletoe harvesting areas, but with its own locally-grown stock. (If you want to know more about Cotehele’s mistletoe watch this video, or wait for ITV’s Countrywise programme on 20th December…)
Supermarkets: Many don’t stock mistletoe at all, and you might suspect that those that do might source it from abroad. But have faith! Some big names do stock British mistletoe – including Tesco (£2 for a some rather tired-looking sprigs in a bag), Waitrose (not sure yet on pricing or condition) and even Lidl, who are planning to sell UK-sourced stock (from Tenbury Wells, via Suffolk) soon.
Mail-order: The most reliable way to get British mistletoe if you’re outside the main growing areas. A few specialist websites, notably Tenbury English Mistletoe Enterprise (TEME), and InterMistletoe (who are Suffolk-based but sell Tenbury mistletoe). Plus a few others (will add some more later) and some smaller scale sellers on Ebay
But do be wary of some mail-order firms. There’s a very attractive-sounding offer from Thompson & Morgan at the moment – selling 2 sprigs of mistletoe in a kiss-themed hanging bag for £1.99, discounted by 80% from £9.99. Sounds good, and looks good in their picture (left). But there’s nothing about provenance, so assume this is imported, not British, and probably already past it’s best (why else sell it so cheap?). Plus the promotional picture clearly has about 4 or 5 sprigs, so I expect the 2 they send won’t look half as good. Oh, and you have to add £4.95 shipping. So the price isn’t quite so right either.
What do you do if… you can’t buy British, or always have difficulty getting fresh mistletoe? GROW YOUR OWN. It’ll take a few years to get established but once it’s established you’ll be self-sufficient. You’ll need a suitable host tree of course. For information on Mistletoe Grow-kits, and Grow-kit Vouchers for Christmas visit the English Mistletoe Shop.
Please spend 5 minutes completing the 2010 Mistletoe Questionnaire!!
And why not buy the book? www.buy.mistletoe.org.uk