Food for thought (no pun intended)

It’s about now that I wished I live in a country which was self sufficient in food, rather than one which imports 40-50% of what it eats.

You mean like Holland, Belgium or Norway.

I think we’re safe enough Billy. We can forego the McNuggets.

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If the UK changed it’s eating habits then it would be much more self-sufficient than it is now.

Yes - I linked this article earlier in the climate/ecological breakdown thread. Monbiot is a meticulous researcher, and his predictions have generally proven accurate…

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Well, I actually meant France of course - but, yes, if they are self-sufficient.

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With the exception of coffee, oranges and Catalan vermouth I’d be easily (and happily) able to eat and drink from within a 50 km radius of chez nous

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I remember many years ago visiting a subsistence farming family deep in rural Albania - actually in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Albania is one of those cultures you have to leave something on your plate or the host will assume you are still hungry and keep feeding you. Unfortunately my interpreter didn’t tell me this until later, and in my family we always had to clear our plate.
As we talked the table gradually filled up with all manner of food - fruits, breads, cured meats, cheeses, etc - and the inevitable wine and raku (home-made brandy). They bought nothing - their only cash income was occasionally selling surpluses at the local market - everything on the table had come from within a couple of hundred metres of where we sat.

Ah well - I’ve spent most of this week in our vegetable garden…

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The UK hasn’t been able to feed itself for decades, at least since before the second World War. What do you suggest the UK should grow to become more self sufficient and how do you suggest this master plan would be implemented? The Archers II?

It was particularly bad during and after WWII but we haven’t been truly self-sufficient since the industrial revolution.

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Have you been to the lovely vermut producers in Reus? Worth a visit if you are down that way :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks for that! Will investigate.

We go down that way once or twice a year, but usually do an overnight stop in Tarragona, so Reus would be an interesting change.

I was converted from Noilly Prat by a Catalan artisanal vermouth made in Girona for one particular tapas bar (and only available from there). I was surprised by the drink’s complexity and began to explore the subject further. If anyone’s passing that way, it’s :-
Tapas Restauranter, Plaça de la Independència, 18, 17001 Girona.

However, I usually buy cases of Rojo Reserva, at La Jonquera which is more downmarket, but still remarkably potable…


And still this government refuses to listen to our farmers!

UK consumers have demanded cheap food but UK producers can’t meet that demand so the country now imports vast quantities of the most basic foodstuffs - eggs, milk, potatoes etc. In addition consumers want the availability of all types of food even out of season so in the winter months imports of fruit and veg go up because they can’t be grown in the country during that period.

Then you’ve got the fussiness of the consumer who will only eat certain types of fish so despite having a great variety of available seafood on it’s doorstep consumers only want cod, salmon and tuna which have to be imported.

Within food imports is drink, the UK imports more wine than any other country on the planet yet at the same time UK wine production is growing rapidly but consumers won’t drink it so it is mainly exported.

To sum up, if UK consumers would be prepared to pay a bit more for their food, eat seasonally and be more adventurous with what they ate and drank it would encourage UK food and drink production and the country would become more self-sufficient.

Of course, not everyone can do it (in UK or France) … but the old “dig for victory” idea ain’t bad.
My Dad grew all our fruit/veg requirements and some years we had our own chickens, or else the neighbours did. Minimum of stuff was actually bought and paid for.

EDIT: Good grief, is UK really importing Milk, Eggs and Potatoes ???

I really don’t think you can put all the blame on the British public. The idea that huge multinational corporations that spend £millions on advertising and political lobbying are the innocent playthings of ‘consumer demand’ is absurd, isn’t it?

Anybody experienced in business knows you can create demand - and advertising agencies know that you can indeed create needs.

I always think back to a Birdseye Fishfingers slogan from my childhood (yours too probably Tim - i think we’re similar ages): ‘No Grey Bits’. As a child I liked that idea - then I thought - ‘but real fish does have grey bits’ - and it dawned on me that they were trying to replace the real, natural food with a manufactured version. In the process, they (and dozens of other mega-corporations) manufactured the public’s ‘taste’.


I agree with that point but the middle (or beginning?) of a cost of living crisis is hardly the time to expect people to “to pay a bit more for their food”. And I echo Geof’s point that mass marketing and agressive advertising are inhibitors to people being “more adventurous with what they ate and drank it”. And, of course, we have just seen the Government do a U turn on encouraging people to eat better.

As an aside, I was amused to hear some Northern Ireland importer use the example of beef flavoured crisps to highlight NIP issues. It seems that the exporter would need veterinary sign off for the crisps because the flavouring is animal based. Apart from the obvious health benefits of restricting crisp distribution in NI, it seems a small price to pay for the economic benefits of having a foot in the UK internal market and in the EU single market :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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Eat just once a season!

I would prefer to eat every day, but if it takes eating once a season to make ends meet then so be it!


Daft Bat ( :wink:) I’m sure we all have noticed that perishable foodstuffs are almost “always available”.
Stuff seems to come from all over the world and there is no longer much of “a treat”.
Used to be a pleasure to see runner beans in the shops.
Now, that was a treat… and that first plateful of the season was always so delicious…
Different countries have their own “veggies” and in season is generally best for flavour and price too.

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