Ris­ing prices add to Bri­tain’s food cri­sis

Rutherglen Reformer - - Clare Haughey -

A sub­stan­tial rise in the price of food as a re­sult of Bri­tain leav­ing the EU is widely pre­dicted.

In March food prices rose at the fastest rate for three years while the fall­ing value of ster­ling makes it more ex­pen­sive to buy food abroad, whether from Europe or else­where.

The value of the pound is ex­pected to drop by a fur­ther 5 per cent over the next year.

Now all this is ex­tremely bad news for house­hold bud­gets in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang and is an­other demon­stra­tion of the folly of leav­ing the Euro­pean Union.

But it puts the spot­light on the value of lo­cally pro­duced and sourced food prod­ucts.

More ex­pen­sive it may be but to­day’s su­per­mar­kets are bulging with food of all kinds and from all places – but too of­ten lack­ing the fresh, sea­sonal taste many of us re­mem­ber from our child­hood.

Pota­toes are nice enough but don’t have the spe­cial taste of new pota­toes in sea­son. You can get straw­ber­ries all year round but at this time of year they tend to look and taste like turnips. Same with sprouts, which are great at Christ­mas but some­how less ap­peal­ing in April.

Fresh pea-pods, spring onions, spring lamb, ap­ples in the au­tumn – the very words stir our taste buds. The reason is that most food prod­ucts have an ap­pro­pri­ate sea­son and that fresh, sea­sonal food tastes bet­ter and is bet­ter for us than pro­cessed foods or food out of sea­son.

A rad­i­cal pol­icy on the na­tion’s food is long over­due. The op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clude re­quir­ing large su­per­mar­kets to source and sup­ply much more lo­cally-pro­duced food, which ought to be a win­ner in Scot­land with its highly suc­cess­ful food and drink in­dus­try, much bet­ter in­for­ma­tion in shops about sea­sonal food and a big push on al­lot­ments, gar­den­ing clubs and com­mu­nity grow­ing projects.

Farm­ers’ mar­kets have also proved very pop­u­lar and could make a con­tri­bu­tion to re­viv­ing subur­ban shop­ping cen­tres.

The pub­lic sec­tor should also lead by ex­am­ple in its own food pro­cure­ment re­quire­ments: schools, hospi­tals, care homes, etc.

Gov­ern­ments are rightly con­cerned about pro­cessed food with too much salt, too many things with sugar in them, a grow­ing obe­sity cri­sis, chil­dren with den­tal prob­lems.

A pol­icy of sup­port for lo­cal food is part of the pic­ture. It is time for ac­tion on food.

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