James Lawton is a Lincoln local who is a lover of all things food. Known as Ginger Ninja Foodie to his Instagram followers, James spends hours looking for hidden gems across Lincolnshire and is passionate about supporting local food.
“I started sharing my food stories with a few people and it grew from there” James explains, “I am not interested in the number of likes or followers I have, I have a busy daytime job, I am just passionate about food and independent businesses and like to share my experiences to show my support.”
James uses his Instagram page as a space to share independent restaurants, shops, delis and butchers across the city and surrounding areas and shares his experiences with them. Never afraid to be honest, he doesn’t sugar-coat his experiences and offers true advice and tips on how to get the most out of what’s on offer.
“I was born in Welbourn, and my friend had a cattle farm” he recalls, “I learnt a lot at a young age by helping him with milking and herding, so my love of agriculture and food came from lucky beginnings.”
Knowing exactly where the food we eat has come from is a growing concern of the population during a time where we are more aware of the effects on the environment, our health, as well as trying to live smarter at a time where pockets are tight. James is passionate about teaching others to ask the right questions, including asking the journey of the meat on his plate. “Butchers I like will display where they are getting their meat from; I get a lot from Mansion Farms who educated me on meat and butchery practices. They rear their own cattle and transfer it only 30 miles for slaughter in Lincoln, so it causes less distress to the animal and the whole process is fully traceable which I am big on.”
He is also passionate about purchasing meat from your local butcher rather than a supermarket and wants to diminish myths that it will be more expensive. “Your butcher will not only sell it at around the same price, but they will often help you with how to cook it and share their knowledge of different cuts to get the most out of your meat.”
By keeping his finger on the pulse through networking and research, James has supported various businesses from the very beginning. Slow Rise started offering collections and deliveries of homemade Neapolitan pizza from their kitchen during lockdown, and now have a successful premises on St Martin’s Lane. Similarly, Nonna Juana Pasta on Burton Road started selling handmade ravioli from their home to generate an income during the pandemic, and now welcome regular customers to their shop. James supported both from their concept and now gets enjoyment from watching them flourish.
A few places James recommends include The Bottle & Glass at Harby, The Five Bells at Bassingham, Fenland Hideaway in Cherry Willingham, as well as The Oaks at Lincoln Golf Centre of whom he is particularly fond of due to the transparency of where the food comes from. “They display where they get all their meat and bakery items from; I absolutely love the fact they engage and use local suppliers. By going there and buying a sandwich, you aren’t just supporting them, but various other local businesses which is a big love of mine.”
James hopes to inspire others to get out and explore what is on offer in their local area and hopes the next time you want to purchase food, whether it is meat for home cooking, a light lunch or a fancy sit down meal, you will spend a few moments researching independent places which will appreciate your custom a lot more than a large chain.
Future plans include a food business of his own, which is currently under wraps but is ‘something refreshing that hasn’t been seen in Lincoln yet’. If you would like to follow James and his journey, or ask for advice or tips on eating locally, you can follow him on Instagram at @gingerninja_foodie_