New plan for organic-only food in Scottish hospitals, schools and prisons
SCOTLAND’S schools, hospitals, prisons, nurseries, police and fire service canteens, and care homes for children and the elderly would all be forced to serve organic-only food in a Scandinavian-style shake-up of nutritional standards, under plans to be unveiled at Holyrood.
All meals provided in public-sector kitchens would have to provide organically-sourced food, as part of a shake-up proposed by Green MSP Mark Ruskell.
Last night, celebrity chef Nick Nairn backed the move saying it would be “fantastic” and a great step in the right direction”. However, Nairn also predicted the change would be too expensive and complicated to deliver and doubted whether enough homegrown food could even be provided. He also claimed there was no political will to support the move.
Ruskell’s radical plan would be introduced along similar lines to one in Denmark, which is credited as a world leader in promoting organic produce, where the goal is for 60 per cent of organic food in public institutions. “The public sector is a way to drive these healthy food cultures,” said Ruskell, the Scottish Greens’ food spokesperson at Holyrood.
Asked if organic food should be compulsory for public-sector kitchens, Ruskell said: “It’s certainly something we need to be looking at. We’d look at that and certainly take inspiration from Denmark and look at what works.”
Nick Nairn said there were “too many economic barriers” for the plan to work. The chef, who ran Nairns restaurant in Glasgow, was widely seen as a poster boy for the campaign to encourage Scots to turn their backs on bad diets.
However, Nairn claimed his attempts to convince decision-makers to introduce transformative change failed. He said: “I found out that not much changed.”
Nairn said he was a huge supporter of organic food, but claimed Scotland was not ready for the change proposed by Ruskell.
He said: “I’m not against it. I’m very pro-organic food, but this will never happen as there are too many economic barriers.
“Denmark is decades ahead of us in its relationship with food and we could take a leaf out of their book.
“I had lots of conversations at a very high level, but they never came to fruition and there were a lot of platitudes and hot air.”
He added: “I don’t think we even have enough homegrown organic food and we’re miles behind in that sense. You would also need to get a
lot of people on board to do it and you would need to convince farmers that they could make money out of it.”
Ruskell pointed out that a similar plan from the former Green MSP Robin Harper had been blocked by the Scottish Parliament in early 2003.
However, Ruskell said Scotland was now ready for a more radical approach.
The Scottish Government said it had no plans to introduce a compulsory requirement to serve organic food in state institutions.
MSP Mark Ruskell