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We must change the economics of the food industry or face disaster.

Further to listening to the famous economist Mariana Mazzucato on Desert Island discs yesterday I realised why the food industry is not working for consumers or primary producers and faces disaster. Especially with the possibility of free trade and decreasing food knowledge.

Farmer gets 9p in the £1

According to Mariana and top economists a sustainable, growing, vibrant, economy is based on value creation instead of value extraction. This means adding ‘real’ value through a supply chain instead of ‘perceived’ value through telling a story.

An example of this in the food industry is a bag of fresh carrots leaving a field for 30p, being washed, cut and packed in a bag for £1 and then put on the supermarket shelf for £2. The Carrots have not changed but risen from 30p to £2. We buy them because marketeers have told us we need the convenience of the supermarket.

What should I buy?

Likewise a potato leaves the field at 5p, is washed, roasted and packed by a corporate processor and on the supermarket shelf for 75p. We buy them because marketeers have persuaded us that we don’t have time to cook a baked potato.

Or a pig leaving the farm at £1.40/kg ends up in a sausage on a supermarket shelf for around £7/kg.

Over the years the share of the retail price farmers get for their produce has dropped steadily and it is now about 9p in every £1 spent on food in the supermarket.

The government and EU have recognised this and opted to subsidise farmers to stop them going out of business. And hoped that the free market would give consumers choice and value.

Unfortunately the free market is more interested in profit that customer health, and meant that most marketeers have influenced consumers to buy unhealthy food that now costs the taxpayer £20billion. (20% of NHS spend on food related disease).

This ‘double whammy’ of declining income to farmers and increasing NHS costs must be addressed by educating consumers and encouraging farmers to supply direct to consumers. This should give both farmers and consumers a better deal and build a more sustainable food economy.

HOW: To educate consumers we must get Food Growing, Cooking, Selling and Nutrition at the core of the school curriculum. Petition here.

our petition

Mad NOT to when;
1. Over half our schools already have a veg patch,
2. Sugar tax can pay for the rest
3. Many non-profit organisations like BigBarn already have the notes for the curriculum
4. Kids can be a huge influence on their family

Then to get consumers buying local we need:
1. every farmer to add their details to our Local Food Map and
2. consumers to find and buy fresher, better, often cheaper seasonal food direct
3. consumers and schools to grow food and sell it via local shops Crop for the Shop
4. lots of websites to promote and share the Local Food Map

So please help. The government are so busy squabbling over brexit that we need to take action. You can sign our petition here, or check your local food map by adding your post code here. And please spread the word.

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