Tag Archives: food waste

Food 2030 – spin not substance


Venue magazine asked me for my view on Food 2030 for its Feb 3 issue. That got me thinking:

The government’s food strategy for the next 20 years sounded like good news.

“Britain must grow more sustainable food,” went the Guardian headline as farming minister, Hilary Benn, launched Food 2030 at the Oxford Farming Conference.

Hilary was using all the right words: climate change, food security, homegrown food.

Hilary even included this rallying call:

“People power can help bring about a revolution in the way food is produced and sold.”

That sentence could have come straight from the planet-friendly Soil Association. Hold on a minute. I think it did. I remember writing something similar when I was editor of the organic charity’s magazine, Living Earth.

So, has the government finally got the green message?

Look, I hate to be cynical but there is an election coming up.

The fact is – and you might as well know sooner than later – New Labour (and Conservatives when in power) are as wedded to the dominant global food system as ever.

Food 2030 pretends to be open-minded about GM but I am not convinced.

According to Hilary Benn’s performance at the Soil Association 2008 conference, the minister does not inspire confidence.

(Watch out for Hilary at the Soil Association conference in February).

So Hilary tries to reassure us that the government is on the case because it is spending £90m over the next five years “to fund innovative technological research and development” with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Sounds like quick-fix technology to me – good for corporate finances but not for us mere mortals.

You can bet that not-much of that £90m will go on researching already-existing healthy farming models such as organic farming or permaculture.

Food 2030 pretends to be looking for solutions but instead dumps the burden on consumers and farmers.

(Reminds me of that ghastly government advert on climate change where the little kid sees a picture of a puppy dying in the rising tide. O, so kids must feel guilty while the government carries on with business-as-usual? No, minister, that is not what I would call positive action against climate change).

Back to Food 2030 and Hilary’s big push against food waste. Yes, we waste food but hold on a minute. Why focus on what we citizens keep rotting in our fridge when supermarkets throw away far more food than we do?

And as for telling farmers to produce more local food when – hello? – council farms are being sold off.

Benn’s only vaguely substantial idea was to be more honest about labelling meat’s country of origin.

But then that was a Tory idea anyway.

So, sorry – not impressed.

Are you?

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Stop press (added 03.05.2010): The Soil Association has produced a report investigating the big fat lie that the UK needs to double food production by 2050.

Chicken goes far

Chicken with carrots, broccoli and brown rice

Isn’t it a treat to be fed? I am always filled with gratitude when someone else cooks. Praise be to Paul for the aromatic chicken he served last night to my sister and me.

The surprise ingredient was the lemon peel which Paul added (after searing the chicken), with the chicken stock, parsley and celery. The peel (and juice) was fresh and tangy, while chilli added an undernote of fiery bite.

My sister and I much admired Paul’s precision and patience for he cut both lemon peel and carrots into long rectangle matchsticks, julienne-style.

We ate in the garden, sitting long after June’s hot sun had faded.

My sister quoted her colleague, Jess, who says: “It’s less rude to say you are a vegetarian than ask whether the meat was happy or battery.”

Paul’s chick was free range, from Sainsbury’s.

I was fascinated by the price issue. Paul had originally wanted four chicken breasts but the cost was not much different from two whole chickens (about £6.50 each).

From two chickens he made the following: teriyaki chicken breasts for four (one breast each); chicken noodle soup from both carcasses; two fried wings for salad; our aromatic chicken (two legs and two thighs). And he still had two legs, two thighs and two wings left over.

But are people put off by butchering a carcass, I pondered? We agreed you need a good pair of scissors and a sharp knife (plus no squeamishness).

Paul was recycling his newspapers and I grabbed the Guardian‘s June 4 supplement before it went to paper-pulp heaven.

Appropriately, G2 (how I love the supplements more than the news) had a review by witty Zoe Williams about the just-released, The Kitchen Revolution.

It’s is all about saving money by not letting the food you buy waste away at the back of your fridge. It is about eating well and saving food miles by cooking from scratch.

In other words it is about reversing the horrors of a junk food culture to return to everything real food lovers care about passionately.

Viva la revoluzione!