In my last post I spoke a little about how the food industry has changed over the past few decades, with the drive towards intensive farming methods propelling forward like a steam roller, decimating everything in its path. I also spoke of how new shoots of change have become to show from under the carnage as we as a nation have become to re address our disturbing relationship with food and learn to have a renewed respect for what we put in our bellies.
Looking at the past and seeing how we got to this point can go some way to knowing where we are potentially heading, as well as knowing how we can steer the ship of sanity back onto the correct course.
History tells us that it was during and after the two world wars that intensive farming really got the boost. Rations and food shortages were prevalent and in order to feed our troops abroad as well as the population back home, more efficient methods of food production were needed in order to stave off potential starvation.
The problem is that decades after the war, we still continued to use these same methods, despite them being largely redundant. We used to be content just eating a meagre amount of meat, having it as a treat instead of as a necessity, but with the consumer capitalist agendas philosophy of feeding demand wherever it sees it, at whatever cost to nature and the environment, the balance was never able to be redressed.
It’s all very well us petitioning our MP for more restrictions on poultry farmers and standing outside a new Tesco waving banners about how they are going to destroy the community, but the simple fact is the only reason these things are happening is because we as the general public have wanted them to happen. If we simply bought our foods from elsewhere and ensured all of it was bought ethically and sustainably then the demand would disappear overnight. Companies such as Tesco would be forced to re address its business model in order for it to be greener, ethical and more in line with what the future of this country really needs, locally sourced, sustainable food. They will go where the money is at the end of the day and if it’s more profitable for them to go green, then that’s what they will do, or else they will be doomed to oblivion as they are shunned by the general public.
The responsibility also falls onto local businesses to jump off the “ethical food as a luxury” bandwagon as well and start charging fair prices for their produce, achieved again by adopted business models that aim to reduce waste and unnecessary expenditure in order to pass savings on to customers.
I think we are all sick of the thrills and the spills, the expensive marketing campaigns, the bright lights and flashy signs. What I hear the public crying out for is simply affordable food that fits into their personal beliefs about having a respect for nature and the environment. It’s about time small businesses starting giving the people what they want!
And now I come to my final point, the street food revolution. What is it about? It’s about no frills, no flashy gimmicks, no pretentious waffle and 3 course meals served with silverware and a smug grin. It’s about simple, quality affordable food that can fit into every ones lives, not just those who have the luxury of a six figure income. The fight to help our environment will not be won by solely winning over the middle classes. The working class family needs to eat too and it’s important that they be won over as well.
The war cannot be won by guilt tripping, scaremongering or fear but by showing people how damn tasty good quality sustainable food can be!
So I ask of you fellow food businesses, stop buying your produce from massive wholesalers. Stop over pricing your food. Stop over spending on things you don’t need to. If your food is of good enough quality people will buy it, regardless of whether your sales rep drives a BMW or your meals come with a laser light show.
The times they are a changing and you can either adapt or die. I have no sympathy for any food business, whether it’s a pub, restaurant, cafe, whatever, who has gone out of business in this recession that didn’t at least try to embrace the changes that are coming, by buying local, by checking suppliers to see how they treat their live stock and by not genuinely caring about the food they are selling. If you are not completely passionate about food, then please, get the hell out of the food industry! The public does not want you anymore!
There are still many challenges that need to be faced, attitudes need to continue to change in a positive direction, businesses need to start adapting and re assessing and councils need to start making more provisions for food businesses interested in producing small scale, local food. Finding a place for street trading as a mobile caterer in Brighton and Hove is currently next to impossible and I have just written to Caroline Lucas to try to arrange a meeting so we can discuss how this can be addressed to help pave the way for more similar businesses, as well as helping existing bricks and mortar businesses make the ethical switch too. On a side note, if anyone who knows her and reads this, please ask her to get in touch as I’ve yet to receive a reply.
On a final note (if anyone’s actually managed to make it to the end of this article, bravo!) We’re having our pre launch, burger night at the Seven Bees Cafe, 7b Ship Street Gardens, Brighton on Thursday 15th march at 7-10pm. I’m really sorry to vegetarians, but this is a meat only affair. Please understand it’s not because I’m a hypocrite, I really do believe we need to cut down on our meat, it’s just I’ve had some issues with my deep fat frier and haven’t been able to perfect my spicy re fried bean burger yet. When I’ve nailed a couple of veggie burger recipes and they are truly astounding I will do a veggie only night somewhere. I’m just a crazy perfectionist…ask my girlfriend, it drives her mad sometimes (Love you Amy)
Check the event out here www.facebook.com/events/378544488825541/
Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more up to date information about further developments.
I should have my daytime pitch at Hove within a week or two, I’m just waiting for the council to process my application but you can also see me at Battle Farmers Market, starting on 21/04/2012 and every month there after.
I hope to see you all there. Much love to you all.
Article Written by Paul Clark (The Troll's Pantry - NCASS Mem 8309)
Original article can be found here