Saturday, February 16, 2013

Food Security is Supporting Your Local Food Industry

The UK as a case study:

In a previous blog post, I expressed my admiration for the relationship people living in the English countryside have for locally produced foods and their local village high street. Based on my experience people in the countryside support their local industry simply because they take great pride in their community, in their environment and the things they consume. Some would immediately tell you about the importance of reducing food mileage to the environment and that the eggs they had for breakfast was sourced from the local farm shop whose farm is just down the road.

What I also like about the village high street is how local shops displays with pride the goods they have for sale with full details about the source of these goods. They take pride in the fact that what they have for sale was sourced locally, as they display the name of the farms, farmers and location where the food comes from, traceability is key, for example one would see signs saying things like Genuine Modbury or Devon or British Lamb, they would even declare that the lamb was sourced from a South Devon farm as opposed to West Devon or just simply Devon farm because they know their customers like their foods to be sourced locally and I am sure if someone displayed a sign saying Imported American Beef they would be laughed out of the village.

Out of all the local shops on the high street, I think the local butcher holds a position of greater importance. The local butcher plays a very traditional role on the high street and takes that importance and that role very seriously. The local butchers normally wears a standard butcher’s uniform always smartly dressed, a very white shirt, some with a tie, a smart butcher’s hat and an apron to finish off the Ensemble. Most are professionals at what they do, some even own and operate family run shops that may have been passed down from generation to generation. They will tell you with pride of their family’s connections in their profession and how close the family has been in the food production and distribution business over the decades, if not centuries.

When you run a small family business in a close nit community, a place where everybody knows your name, the place where you grew up with the people around you and a place where you meet the people around you in the local pub after closing then reputation and goodwill is of paramount importance. You go the extra mile to make sure your customers are given nothing but the best regardless of what you are selling and if you are good and consistent at what you do then you will earn a reputation as the finest supplier of your product not only in the village but in the county and across the land.

The Farm Shop is another concept that I just love and adore, what a wonderful concept and out of all the farm Shops none is more special than the Organic Farm Shop. I can easily spend an entire day just hanging out and wondering a farm Shop. This is when the owner of a farm decided not only will he sell to shops and supermarkets in various areas but will open a shop attached to the farm where the fresh produce from the farm is sold. The concept has grown to the point that various Farm Shops also have restaurants in them, cooking the finest foods from locally sourced ingredients, hiring the finest chefs, making the best pastries, cooking the best piece of Organic meat and vegetables. If the farm did not supply a certain product like meat then the farm shop would sourced their meat and milk from other local farms that meet their standards.

Farms have also found new ways of distributing the things they produce, not willing to sit down and depend on people coming to the Shops or rely solely on marketing their products to major supermarket chains and local high streets shops, farms are now selling directly to customers via the internet. Traditionally a farmer might develop a relation with people in the community and agree that at a specific interval they would drive to the houses of their customers in the immediate area and deliver fresh produce from the farm, so straight from the farm to your door.

"Many of us assume that buying locally sourced food is expensive and will break the bank. In fact it will save you money but more importantly improve your health, for you and your family.
Think buying local meat is more expensive than your supermarket? Think again... Claire from Devon Fit Camp visited Gribbles Butchers Ivybridge to find out more." Food Mileage!!

They have now extended this concept by creating a Food and Vegetable Box delivery system where customers would log on to their Internet website and make their orders directly from the farm. It is now fashionable to get your box of fruit and Veg with moist soil still attached as a sign of farm freshness. Farmers would head into the field with a list of orders and build these boxes to order and when I say list I mean a mobile application that alert the farmers in the field to build a box for a specific order base on customer requirements. The Box delivery system have also been extended to the sale and distribution of cheese, eggs, meats and fish as people try to get their foods as fresh and organic as possible from a source they know and trust.

This is Food Security because it provides the customers with greater control over where their foods comes from, this represents at most two degrees of separation as the local high street food suppliers are the only entity between the source of the Food and the Customers. The Farm Shop and the Farm Box Delivery System is a direct line between the Customer and the Source. This is Food Traceability at its very best, if you have a problem with the food then talk to the farmer, or talk to the local butcher who talks to the farmer. Normally the High Street supplier gladly displays the source and contact detail information of his food supplier because his customers feel better knowing that what they are eating comes from the farm down the road, they know the farmer, heck they meet him down the pub from time to time for a pint.

The current food contamination scandal involves Big Supermarket Chains, those massive entities that are one stop shop for everything including the kitchen sinks and gasoline. Their aim is to move everything as fast as possible and as cheap as possible. They need to sell a lot in order make a profit, Quality is not that important to them, they are more than willing to sacrifice quality because they need to move goods fast, they buy dirt cheap and sell little higher but low enough to undercut the prices of the local high street shops. It is not uncommon these days to drive through high streets and see shops boarded up as the mom and pop stores just cannot compete.

The current food contamination scandal also involves processed package foods, foods that came from a factory somewhere and whose ingredients originated from a farm somewhere … at least we hope. The degree of separation for these type of foods is almost impossible to figure out, since they are still trying to trace the source of the contamination  Ever since their invention, Big Supermarket Chains have been a threat to the local high street family run businesses, since low income consumers like a bargain and are willing to risk food quality and safety to meet the family budget. The people who are affected by the recent food contamination are mainly people living in big urban cities and low income areas. These people have no idea what goes into making their microwave Findus Beef Lasagna, well now they know …. Horse!

The current Food scandal is  driving more and more people to rediscover the value of the local high street and the importance of the local butchers. The people are going back to locally sourced, healthy organic foods and are staying away from the Big Supermarket Chains and Imported Mystery Food and this is a wonderful thing. The organic movement must seize the day and spread the word that natural is better, organic is better, local is better for sustainability.

I would like my fellow Jamaicans to cherish the things we have, support our local industry because food security is a vital part of our existence regardless of what the first world countries are trying to tell you, they are just trying to make money at our expense, they do not care what we eat or how we live so long as we make them richer.

Jamaica is perfect for Agriculture Production our land is green and lush with fertile soil, and more than adequate water supply if managed properly. We have frequent tropical rain fall and continuously flowing rivers and streams and with constant tropical sunshine that feeds our rich, natural resources. I am convinced that the natural law of comparative advantage is on our side and if applied properly we can create a sustainable system. With the right imagination and innovation we can grow enough food to feed our population for a long time to come.The circumstances surrounding how we got to this blessed land was horrific but we inherited one of the most beautiful, fertile landmass on the face of this planet, our little rock nice.

1,800-pound Jamaican Brahman bull from Dr Wellington's Y.S. Farms in St Elizabeth

During a recent discussion on facebook a young lady stated “Life gives you Carrot… Make Carrot Juice”, she was referring to the fact that Jamaica is blessed with so many things and yet we devalue these things and want what other people have, even if it means our destruction as she declared that we were too Red Eye (envious)… “Life gives you carrot… Make carrot Juice” sums up everything I believe and have been fighting to get across to anyone who would listen. It is one thing to make the best use of what you have first and then turn to what others have, as a way to supplement our lifestyle but another to disregard completely what you have, to devalue it and value the same thing from others. In Jamaica’s case “Life gives us Carrot but we turn around and buy carrots from other countries” leaving our carrot to rot in the fields, thinking that other people's carrot is superior to our home grown carrot.

Our Rivers and Seas are Full of Life, food everywhere

One minute we have a thriving Dairy Industry contributing to your Gross Domestic Product and the next cargo ships of subsidized dried milk powder turn up at your ports and wipe our natural organic milk off the selves thus forcing our dairy farmers to dump their milk at the side of the road and slaughter their dairy herd.

One minute we have acres upon acres of oranges growing in the fertile soil and tropical sun, then the next some fool decided he is going to import Orange Concentrate from countries that don’t even grow oranges and whose product past through so many countries that it is impossible to trace the actual source and our citrus farmers are forced to watch their oranges fall off the tree and rot where they fall.

One of the biggest scams of the 21st century is the world’s implementation of the Free Market Concept, the theoretical concept itself is sound but the implementation is disgustingly flawed. This is the old Bait and Switch routine, where they sold the theoretical concept of Free Trade to any half educated fool who would listen and then implemented (switch it with ) a variation that looks nothing like original as they created various loopholes in the implementation that guaranteed the Developed (first World) countries the clear advantage. The theoretical concept of Free Trade did not factor in Power, Greed and Corruption used by the Developed (first World) countries as they circle the wagon and engineered the system to service them, this entire planet is about them, we exist to service them, we exist on their terms.

Jamaica Catch of the Day

Youlanda is 16 years old Pig farmer
Jamaica Denbigh Agricultural Show

Box Veg Riverford farm UK

No comments:

Post a Comment