Half Baked Commitment

Monday, February 19th, 2007 @ 11:22PM

On my way home from Aviemore on Sunday, my colleague and I stopped at House of Bruar for something to eat. As we walked through the shop after our meal I noticed an abundance of affluent shoppers carrying baskets ladled with goodies including this bread. It’s 100% Organic and made locally in Dunkeld from a renewable energy resource - it’s exactly the kind of socially responsible local enterprise that our government should be encouraging.

However, I couldn’t help but wonder if that bread was available in the local cornershop in Blair Atholl or Pitlochry, featuring in the daily lives of their residents or whether it was just reserved for the 5 star out of town tourist attraction that is the House of Bruar?

More to the point, could people just walk round the corner to buy it or do they have to jump into one of the many landrovers parked in House of Bruar to pick it up? Do those customers think they’re doing their bit for the environment by jumping in a gas guzzler to buy their renewable bread? Now I don’t doubt for a second that a lot of people in Perth need Landrovers because of the weather and sheer geography, but it made me think about quality food production, its accessibility and its market.

At the moment, consistently eating and drinking with some sort of a social conscience is for the wealthy or devout. We need a food revolution, a cultural shift in our attitudes to food and its production. I can’t help but think that supermarkets need to be strong armed into paying more than lipservice to that agenda because it’s currently sexy.

I’m a member of the Co-Op Party and I believe that the co-operative movement is making a real impact by educating its own consumers about Fairtrade and other socially responsible products simply be growing and expanding as an organisation, but we need to do so much more.

Producers should be offered serious incentives for investing in renewable energy sources, implementing zero waste policies and using eco-friendly packaging for their products. Supermarkets could be told to source more local products at prices fair to farmers as a condition of planning permission, feature food which is in season throughout the year and label all foods with the distance it’s travelled.

It’s also about education. I recently read Joanna Blythman’s Bad Food Britain and was stunned and enlightened by many of the observations she makes. One of the most striking discussions was about the aesthetics of food and how as a country we like our food to look sterile and as far removed from its source as possible. It’s no wonder that with that attitude we struggle with the notion that washing dirt off a carrot is actually good for the environment.

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Categories: Environment & Transport

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