Following the current scandal about horse meat being found in various beef products, it highlighted an issue that is of concern to me and of many of those of a green persuasion politically. This is less an issue about food safety, or even about criminality, but about the wider issue of how food is currently produced.
The production of food has increasingly become just another big, international business, with long supply chains, involving much outsourcing upon further outsourcing. As a result, the companies that sell the food to us, the supermarkets, have only reassurances from the people that make the food as to what is in it. Yet, those reassurances are only as good as those further down the supply chain.
This vision of modern food production is the antithesis of the green approach. As much as possible, food should be grown and produced locally, keeping jobs in the area, reducing the huge costs, both monetary and environmental, of transportation.
The slow death of the high street is reported regularly. The current food production model is just another way in which this imminent demise is getting closer. Rather than buying our fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese and other foodstuffs locally, we prefer the convenience of getting everything from one place, the supermarket.
The more we can source food locally, grow it ourselves where possible, the better the local community will be. As with much of life, reducing everything, in this case food, merely to economics, we lose sight of the bigger picture of how every choice we make can affect the world that we live in. Taking small steps, such as using your local butcher more often, can, over time, have a significant impact. If we don’t resist the current global, multinational business model of food production and distribution, we may find the consequences hard to swallow.