We are reading everywhere how much food prices are going up. The basic staples, as far as I understand it, are rising because of increasing oil prices – isn’t it always the oil! It may not be PC to say it, and I really feel for the poorer countries of the world who are struggling with the rice crisis, but we have relied on mass produced cheap food for far too long and now it’s biting us in the bum! We have used oil to produce too much poor quality food boosted with oil-based fertilizers. I for one will be pleased if the current problems force us back to better growing and buying practices. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have to pay more for our food – it might make us waste less and I would rather have less but better quality any day. Didn’t I say in one of my previous newsletters that we spend significantly less on food now than we did, say, in the 50s? Then, we had to be more careful, and it looks like we will have to be again.
The simple fact is we are a rising population with dwindling resources and in a commercial world where money and oil is King. As far as I understand it, the cost of these staples have indeed gone up, but the supermarkets have taken the opportunity to pass more than the extra cost they have incurred onto us, without giving any of that extra cut to the producers. It’s not on. For example, farmers producing grain now get £200 for a tonne of wheat rather than the £100 they used to a year ago. That translates to approx. an extra 8p per loaf of wheat bread. Yet the supermarkets have increased it by much more than that. (Thanks to Olive Magazine for these figures and the ideas below.)
So, what can we do? Buy local to avoid supermarkets who need to keep their margins high. Buy straight from producers either online, at farmers’ markets, farm shops. Buy organic – they don’t use the same oil-dependent fertilizers. Eat more fruit and veg which is so far not affected that much, eat seasonally and British to cut down on food miles, avoid processed food and grow some of your own. Personally, I think the day we start buying again at our small local shops and using some of the agricultural land going to waste that are our gardens to produce food can’t come too soon!
Why not start off with planting two small pots of cut and come again rocket and spinach leaves? Start one off, thin the seedlings out and watch them grow. Once they are almost ready for harvesting, start your second pot off and keep doing that all summer. Easy, organic and ever-ready for a healthy salad meal.