Which goes some way to explaining why Britain, a country perfectly suited to growing apples, now imports 70% of those we eat. The apple shelves are a global tour, from Chile to South Africa, from New Zealand to China, even as we head into prime British apple season. We will never become self-sufficient in apples, but it is possible to reverse the numbers so that only 30% come from abroad, if we stop being obsessed over the look of the fruit and are prepared to pay more for what we buy, so that fruit farmers could invest in new varieties and the best storage techniques.
But why should we pay more for what we buy when we\’re currently being supplied with what we want?
Cost is key. In the early 90s, we spent roughly 20% of our wages on our shopping bill. Today, it\’s nearer 10%, even allowing for recent inflation, and we assume these low prices to be a right. The result is margins for our farmers that are so tight many are giving up. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the dairy industry which is not only shedding farmers every week, but losing its future workforce too, as the traditions of family succession dwindle. Farmers\’ kids don\’t want to go into the business and their parents don\’t want them too, either. A country suited to dairy farming is no longer self-sufficient in milk. We\’re importing the stuff.
Blimey, how glorious is this capitalist free market thing, eh? Food, as a portion of income, just halved in price in only 20 years?
It\’s true that food prices have been falling since the Neolithic….this is what has allowed civilisation to occur. But in only 20 years, in the midst of the second great burst of neo-liberal globalisation, prices halve?
Ain\’t that just friggin\’ fabulous? Why in buggery would anyone want to reverse that?
The major supermarkets are not inherently evil. On balance, they probably help our lives more than they hinder them, but they only respond to consumer demand and what the consumer demands is not always right.
Ah, so, here we come to the nub of it. Mr. Rayner is convinced that he knows better what people should stuff into their faces than those doing the stuffing into faces do.
It\’s always the lefties who end up telling the people they\’re wrong, isn\’t it? Despite all these appeals to democracy which insist that the people are correct.