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What will the exit vote mean to our food industry and food prices? As a net importer of food will there be duties and rising prices? Will very little change as we all realise that after 42 years of free market we need to continue free trade? Or will we close our borders and go back to a war time scenario of trying to become self sufficient?
The European policy for the last 30 years has been to make sure there is plenty of cheap food for everyone. That farms should be subsidised and helped to increase production as efficiently as possible. On the plus side food prices have dropped and we have a huge choice of food and drink in our shops.
On the negative side most foods have become commodities and the drive to increase efficiency and cut cost has meant farmers focusing on farming and getting big to achieve economies of scale. And processors cutting corners.
This has led to food scares like BSE and horse meat, most small farmers selling up, food mountains from over production, and cheap imports from countries with lower wages or lower animal welfare standards. And the growing dominance of big business and the supermarkets.
An MEP would say they have achieved their goal of cheap and convenient food and that the UK leaving will mean these good times may not continue.
They may be right and a great deal depends on what happens as we exit and what attitude the government have to food and farming.
From what I can see the current ‘Food Industry’ dominated by supermarkets is MAD. Mad that farmers on average only get 9p in every £1 spent on food in the supermarket. Mad that a Leek farm I heard about had to throw away 70% of each Leek and spend about £1m on special equipment to satisfy the supermarket specification of 3 ‘dirt free’ leeks in a bag to weigh 500g. When Tesco buyers visited the farm recently they all asked why so much good produce was thrown away. When told the reason was to meet the Tesco order specification, the farmer expected to see changes. Nothing changed.
The big fault with the food industry is that consumers have been disconnected with where their food comes from. The supermarkets have reacted to a few customers saying they don’t want dirt on their leeks. They have specified no dirt and have then gone a step further with the absurd 500g bag. If you were given the choice of a ‘cut down’ 500g bag of leeks at £2, or 1kg of whole leeks for £1.50 what would you choose?
The EXIT will hopefully herald a change to the UK food industry and perhaps even better food at a reasonable price. Instead of those in power making decisions to fit with ALL European farmers our new government can look more specifically at actions and subsidies to improve OUR food industry over the long term.
We already have higher animal welfare standards than the rest of Europe and a green and pleasant land to grow anything we require. We simply need to reconnect consumers with where their food comes from, our farmers.
Especially our children. (please sign our petition for every school to have o veg patch here).
If consumers know more about their food they will make better choices and by buying direct, give farmers a better a deal so that they are encouraged to grow a wider range of products.
The great news is that the government doesn’t need to do very much, as we already have thousands of local shops and producers throughout the UK offering great, fresh, produce that, by cutting out the middle men, is often cheaper than the supermarket.
We simply need to switch from the supermarket to local, and tell our friends.
To find your local food simply type in your post code here to see our local food map with icons you can click on to find our more about each supplier. If you would like to join your local food industry look for Carrot flags meaning you can Crop for your Local Shop. Or perhaps sign up and have your own icon here.