Blaise Tapp: Let’s give our food producers a leg-up...

The NFU says 60 per cent of food is from our farms.
The NFU says 60 per cent of food is from our farms.
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As a man who, on a bad day, struggles to get a clear view of his size 12s it is fair to say that I know a thing or two about food.

And despite the odd aberration which takes me down the chilled aisles at budget German supermarkets or for a cheeky burger or three under the Golden Arches, I am pretty discerning when it comes to what I shove down my cake hole.

Some are willing to pay that little bit extra for quality food and are proud to support local producers

Unless it has a ‘Whoops’ sticker on it I tend to like to know where my grub has come from, although there are limits. A good pal is fond of rearing his festive bird straight from hatching before doing the deed days before December 25 – I will stick to the local butcher’s shop thanks.

But, at least he knows where it comes from, which has over the past decade or so, become vitally important for so many of us, for so many different reasons. For some a locally bought bottle of elderflower and juniper juice is a morally driven decision as it cuts down on food (or drink) miles, while to others it is supporting small businesses.

And, of course, for quite a few this locally-bought tipple gives them something to discuss over a skinny latte.

In spite of the rise and rise of giant out-of-town food stores, some are willing to pay that little bit extra for quality food and are proud to support local producers which is why the warning that these islands are becoming less and less self sufficient is all the more alarming.

The welly wearing folk at the National Farmers Union have produced research which claims that just 60 per cent of the UK’s food needs are taken care of by our own farms. The outlook looks worse when you consider, that with a predicted huge population increase, that we may produce a mere 50 per cent of our own food come 2040 – just 25 years away.

Of course, critics of the NFU will accuse the union of over egging the pudding to make their point but there is clearly a problem when you consider the amount of food we throw away each year – an estimated 100m tonnes in the EU.

There is a tightrope to be walked here: we want to produce more of our own stuff but we don’t want to throw away even more food -–the aim is to reduce this waste by nearly a third.

Surely more can be done to encourage retailers to stock even more British produce and to get even more shoppers to buy it?

I am not calling for an end to free markets but maybe a bit more of a leg-up for our own producers.

While provenance is important for many of us, so is cost, which means that a pack of four symmetrical pieces of non-specific white frozen fish is far more attractive to some than anything caught in the English Channel costing the same, but for one fillet.

So, as always, the answer rests with us the consumer - do we put quality and the origins of what we produce before what we are willing to spend?

l

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