Being someone who likes eating and is also directly involved in the production and supply chain, I was dismayed to find that my local veg grower – who for very little money provided our family with fresh, green produce, heritage varieties, grown less than five miles from my home, had decided to give up – citing as the reason, lack of consumer interest and changing shopping habits in recent year. Putting this into context – I live on an Island that, with a temperate climate and fertile soil, provides ideal growing conditions. We are also, as consumers, a captive market – it’s expensive to transport food on and off The Island – and wasteful in terms of fuel and packaging. There’s now only one producer/grower selling a range of vegetables direct to the public whilst the supermarkets continue to import vast quantities from “The Mainland” or often much further afield.
Food eaters (and surely that’s all of us?) seem to be divided into two camps – with the extreme, organic, quinoa eaters on one end and the Mac Donald brigade at the far other, with most, I assume hovering somewhere in the middle. I attempt not to become obsessive in either direction but I do think that by neglecting our local, small producers, whatever our food ideals, we risk losing any choice in the matter over what we eat, how it’s produced and where our money goes. A case in point being our Island dairy industry which once thrived and is now teetering on the edge of disaster – it’s almost impossible for the consumer here to buy local milk, whilst the producers themselves are going under as a result of dramatic supermarket price reductions. It’s an insane situation when the quality local producers have a market who want to buy their product, but the logistics won’t allow this to happen. Very soon unless something drastic happens there will be no local dairy produce to buy – from cattle home reared, largely grass fed and less than a couple of miles from our doors.
The Economist statistics on annual expenditure on food makes interesting reading – perhaps unsurprisingly the UK and USA are at the bottom of the list – maybe this suggests that we value our food less than in other countries?
Michael Pollan’s slim volume: Food Rules – An Eater’s Manual beautifully sums up a way that we might improve our relationship with food and in turn eat healthily, dine happily and live well.
The second Weekend Read I’ve had to resort to as all signs of Spring emerging seem to have faded on the horizon at least for today….
This beautiful, short book tells the mesmerising, funny, wise and gentle story of a young girl’s summer spent with her elderly artist mother on an Island in the gulf of Finland. Not only does this book bring some glimmers of summer to an evening spent huddling by the fire, it also brings a reminder that life can be lived well by slowing down, noticing and living simply. A brief antidote to a sprinting world.
Finally an Easter listen:
Poulenc Lent Motet performed by Harry Christopher and The Sixteen. Tenebrae Factae Sunt translates as:
Darkness covered the earth
when the Jews had crucified Jesus,
and about the ninth hour
Jesus cried out with a loud voice:
“My God, why have you forsaken me?”
And with his head inclined, he gave up his spirit.
It’s not easy music to listen, but rewarding if you give it time – listen out in particular for Jesus crying out to his father – and to the resignation of the ending… Powerful, complex, intelligent music, beautifully performed.