Is this an unexpected Brexit benefit?

The Good Life Letter 

23rd March 2018

  • Passports for vegetables... what has Ray been drinking?
  • This is how you can fight back against corporate food
  • More dreams, maybe, but worth holding on to.
In my dreams I've seen a horrifying vision of the future, and it's weird.

Tomatoes will comb their stalks flat before hopping up onto a stool in a photo booth and smiling stiffly at the camera…

Potatoes will giggle at their friends because they closed their eyes when their photo was taken…

Carrots will stare moodily into the camera after tossing their feathery leaves behind them...

You might think I have been overdoing the cheese before bedtime again but actually this all came about after reading the labels in a supermarket the other day whilst Lara and daughter were choosing our new toaster (I live a truly hedonistic life!).

Judging by the amount of distance they travel, all fruit and vegetables are going to need passports, and you can’t get one without a picture can you.

The whole business of sourcing food and making it available is fast becoming a scandal when we are trying to protect our resources and also improve the quality of the food we eat.

Take some examples I read about recently…

A man walks past a field of swedes every day on the way to the station. (I assume he's talking about the vegetable rather than a new Viking invasion fleet waiting to claim the fishing grounds once again.)

These swedes are grown locally, by a local farmer, who I assume is only too happy to sell them to local people.
So what does this man see when he pops into his local Co-Op…?

Box upon box of swedes imported from Tasmania!

That's right – a small island on the other side of the world.

And even when the supermarkets make a pathetic attempt to do the sensible thing, they still manage to come up with an idea so cock-eyed it makes Michael Gove seem bright…

Take the case of another crop of Scottish root vegetables that did find their way onto a local supermarket shelf...
They were grown locally.

HOORAH!

There were no pesticides or chemicals used in the growing process.

HOORAH!

But before the fruit was allowed out on the shelves, the supermarket thought it would be a good idea to wrap them up in plastic.

HOOR… oh, wait a minute…

And to do that, they had the clever idea of sending them all the way to Kent to be packaged, then sending them all the way back again before people could buy them.

So what's that… roughly a 966 mile round trip, and at least two days freshness beaten out of the produce before you're allowed to eat them?

Who came up with that idea…? Someone on £100k a year no doubt.

Time to fight back

Now, in the face of such bully boy power, we can feel pretty powerless against the massive supermarket chains.
But there really is A LOT you can do, starting with these little ideas...

  • Buy fresh produce from local suppliers – really, there's no excuse not to. Even if you don't have the luxury of living near the farms themselves, look out for farmer’s markets in your area. Or buy from your local greengrocer (if you still have one), making sure he only picks locally grown produce for you.

  • Let's say you have no choice but to hand over your money to the supermarkets –  you can still make a stand. If the food is over-packaged, don't buy it. Only buy loose fruit and check the label to see where it comes from.

  • If it's not within the UK, again, don't buy it. Simple as that. That's the ONLY way supermarkets are going to stop acting like idiots.

  • Rip off the packaging. If there's nothing but shrink-wrapped food available to you, then take the packaging off and leave it at the checkout. Supermarkets can't do anything about it (so one rebel MP Ben Bradshaw reckons)... so let them deal with all the packaging they create.

How did supermarkets get to be so huge when they're patently so dumb? It's one of the great mysteries of the world.

The Brexit effect on EU

Now please don’t take any of the previous stuff about fresh local produce as being a response to the recent Brexit discussions – that process is really not chief amongst my concerns.

Whether we are in a single market or out of it, one thing for certain is that we the consumers will be the ones carrying the costs.

For too long the power of businesses has dictated the agenda of food in the UK (and around the world) and the changes to the treaties and tariffs for the movement of goods won’t hit the pockets of shareholders, or indeed change the way the companies do business.

Instead they will serve it up to us at a higher cost whilst at the same time completely ignoring the fantastic local and seasonal options available.

Maybe the changes in trade might herald a new era in empowering the small shops we still have in our areas to compete on a much more favourable basis, as they will be sourcing form local suppliers and can benefit free from tariffs and huge transportation costs.

The world, they say, is one of constant change and my hope is that the consumer may yet gain control over what we eat.

If this were to come to pass we would all be healthier and more likely happier too.

You may call me a dreamer... but that was where this whole thing started from!

Yours, as always


Ray



 

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