Thursday, 8 February 2007

Food, Farming and Waste

Fame at last - I received a letter from the local farming museum asking me to come along and open their new offices on Easter Monday. I love Easter - spring will be on the way and the holiday's message is all about looking forward.

Farmers in the UK could do with some more positive thinking from government. I spoke to my friend Ray, a fruit farmer this week about packaging and labelling.

Lots of us want to buy local food, we want to support our farmers and cut down on food miles. But currently if a food item says "British" it doesn't mean it is British. All it means is that the last stage in the production of this food happened in the UK. Pig carcasses can come from overseas and just be packaged up here - and then they are labelled "British". This misleads the public and does not support our own industry. I understand that changing the law on this issue may result in a bit of a tiff in Brussels - but I think its about time we stood up to the EU in order to support British businesses.

Ray told me that it costs £6.50 to produce a box of apples. £1.50 of that cost is in the packaging. What a waste! New boxes, new liners, new styrofoam trays for each load. A Norfolk councillor with responsibility for rubbish collection told me she was fed up with packaging and waste but knows that she cant solve the problem by herself. So she marched the supermarket bosses and food packagers down to the recycling depot to show them just how much of their packaging ends up in the landfill. Now they are working together and results are happening. To cut down packaging waste we need more than just a change of thinking. We also need a joint effort by consumers, producers, supermarkets and government.

We cut down on waste in government too. Too much time and taxpayers money ends up in the great bureaucratic landfill. Changing the government will deliver the change of thinking. But to put the thinking into reality we will need a joint effort between government, public sector employees and consumers.

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