Bravo! Bravo!

Take a pig living outdoors with space to run around. It is fed additive-free foods (spare fruit from the greengrocers, malted barley from the local brewery, etc) and is free to forage in the earth. It is just as happy as an organic pig, it lives just as long and eats just as well. However, unlike an organic pig it lacks the certificate hanging on the sty-wall, its feed bags lack the magic word, and the packaging for the sausages it makes contains no mention of it. The result is a product which tastes as good, has the same ethical credentials and still has impeccable provenance, but does not cost a fortune.

This is why the Italians have not embraced organics as the British have. They refuse to pay the Soil Association a fee to tell them that the meat they buy is good quality and refuse to delegate such an important part of eating well.

The Soil Association is, as we know, a trade union for organic farmers. And just like any other trade union they exist to increase the incomes of their members at the expense of everyone else (that\’s not a criticism by the way, that\’s simply a description of what a union does). And just like any union, guild or company they attempt to do that by creating barriers to entry and a brand which people will pay a premium for.

Buy it if you wish, just as you might buy Heinz baked beans instead of supermarket own. But it is that brand that you\’re buying.

9 thoughts on “Bravo! Bravo!”

  1. “a trade union for organic farmers”

    Worse than that: it’s a guild. And worse than a brand, it has a legal monopoly on the use of a descriptive word.

  2. Your point is valid that both pigs are just as well cared for. My problem is that in not knowing my local pig farmer, I cannot know the conditions in which the pig was raised. I need a way of knowing that the meat produced from the supermarket is from a pig which has been well treated while it was being raised. That is the use of such schemes.

  3. Unfortunately, protection and subsidy has largely done away with our local breweries as well, so our pigs will never be as happy as these Italian ones!

  4. “That is the use of such schemes.”

    It’s what they tell you they’re about. But you probably forgot the foul games the Soil Association is playing denying organic status to organic vegetables grown in Kenya because they are air freighted to the UK.

    Do you care that a Kenyan pig was well treated, or do you want to protect UK farmers from imports? You said the former, but the Soil Association is doing the latter.

  5. “protection and subsidy has largely done away with our local breweries”

    Please do explain how. Note: “the rise from the Victorian era to the 1980s of massive, low-cost industrial breweries with their own estates of tied pubs, buying out local brewers largely to close them down” does not count as “protection and subsidy”.

    If anything it’s the opposite – the fact that we didn’t subsidise or ban the closure of local breweries was a major driver behind the UK being the most industrialised brewing country in Europe (well, except Ireland).

  6. I don’t know how bad it is in the UK but here in the US the prices for organic are prohibitive. A dozen large organic eggs cost over twice as much as the store brand. These people are just pricing themselves out of business.

  7. echo John B – the denial of good bitter to the British consumer is driven by the fact that the proper craft brewers were all bought up by Scottish and Newcastle and others who then started brewing Watney’s Red Barrel, John Smith’s and other strange keg bitters or appalling lager brews in mega-quantities. The British consumer was not prepared to pay slightly more for a better tipple unlike most other beer drinkers of the world. However, the British beer drinker is prepared to pay over the odds for a mediocre Belgian beer – Stella Artois. Five years ago, it was hard to find a bar in Brussels that served Stella – if you wanted that style of beer you had to choose between Maes and Jupiler, both of which have far more flavour than Stella. Sheer brewery power means that Stella has made some inroads but it is still rare to find anyone other than a Brit drinking Stella of his/her own volition, I would wager.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *