I was asked to speak at a Fife political gathering last week and decided to entitle my presentation Food is Politics. However far you go back in time, food has played a key role in history: from the French Revolution to the Irish Potato Famine; more recently in 2017, the Greylag Geese on Uist and the turbulent times for raw milk cheese producers.
I confess I spent time on Slow Food Ark of Taste produce and less on food banks but there is reason for that and someone has to change the mindset and investigate other angles or we shall forever be in a downward spiral of cheap food and little integrity….not such a Good Food Nation!
You have no doubt heard me before on the importance of biodiversity, landrace breeds and
the terrifying limited genetics of modern ‘developed’ foods – big, evenly sized, tasteless and many with 50% of the nutrient value they had 50 years ago!! When we reduce varietals and breeds we have nothing to go back to.
I want to see more transparency…there is far too much hidden in the food industry. No wonder the number of vegetarians and vegans is exploding – from personal experience I can say a significant number is due to an avoidance of low welfare low flavour protein, linked to intensive dairy herds, fake farms, food fraud, feedlot raised beef and unsustainable fishing. It is easier to say to a friend ‘ I’ve gone veggie’ than say, ‘where did the chicken you are cooking for me come from? ….In that case I’ll pass, thanks!!’ Quite a few will cook high welfare meat when at home!
As for that cheap chicken, there are many very well intentioned folk who say to me, ‘people can’t afford to eat the way you do.’ Trust me, we eat incredibly well on a remarkable budget, buying the absolute minimum imported food, staying seasonal and unprocessed. High quality food has more flavour so you can make more meals, stock and even recipes with leftovers from one purchase. That £3 chicken is NOT a bargain…it is a total waste of money: it is a tasteless, non-environmental, non-nutritious white lump. Better to spend that £3 on mince from your local butcher, a box of eggs or fish trimmings from your fishmonger for a yummy fish pie (pictured left).
So buying cheap low quality mass-produced food is not the answer, but there are challenges
to overcome. A couple of major ones, to my mind, are holistic FOOD EDUCATION from an early age in schools (and by that I don’t mean the eat-well plate, I mean eco-agriculture and practical cooking) and TRANSPORT. I have to concede that some of my food shopping requires a car and until we get the logistics right this is a definite barrier to good food…but there is work afoot and it is getting better with food assemblies and deliveries on the increase, and communities can do more with a little lateral thinking.
There are many chefs and producers I know who are doing an amazing job, quite a few swimming upstream to do so, and they are gold dust! But there are also smoke and mirrors out there and it only takes one rotten apple…for a world class reputation for good food, we must retain and increase our reputation for the real deal and I shall continue to do my best at all times on Scottish Food Guide www.scottishfoodguide.scot flying the flag for the producers and chefs who have high standards, integrity and passion and who go a long way to make Scotland a Good Food destination.
If you would like to learn more there are Courses on Cheese, SF Ark of Taste and others on https://www.wendybarrie.co.uk/courses-1
You can reserve a Whitmuir Turkey online at https://www.whitmuir.scot/turkey-deposit-voucher. Or buy one outright at https://www.whitmuir.scot/turkey-17087. Their spotty Tamworth sow has also had 12 fantastic piglets, the sheep are going to tup soon, for lambing next year, and the cows will soon come in for winter. There are farm walks, the “Druid's Forest”, fairy walk and lots to see whilst you shop https://www.whitmuir.scot
Demijohn has over 80 delicious products for you to try, from gins and whisky to first class olive oils and cordials. That’s pretty amazing! https://www.demijohn.co.uk
Walkers Shortbread Christmas range is now available to buy online! https://www.walkersshortbread.com/uk/