New plan for or­ganic-only food in Scot­tish hos­pi­tals, schools and pris­ons

Sunday Herald - - POLITICS -

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

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