The Green Spot
‘Food, Glorious Food’ was the song from ‘Oliver’. Harvest – a time of plenty, with apples falling from trees, the corn and the wheat safely gathered in. But it is also a time to remember those who go hungry, like Oliver with his empty bowl, asking for more. The Special Prayer for Harvest Sunday this year asks:
“Eternal God, you crown the year with your goodness and you give us the fruits of the earth in their season: grant that we may use them to your glory, for the relief of those in need and for our own well-being.”
In the UK we currently import half of our food, yet of the 6 million hectares of cultivatable land in Britain, only 168,000 hectares are used for growing fruit and vegetables. Rather than produce more food here, we are running the risk of damaging our own farmers through the current international trade talks, which are raising alarms about more than chlorinated chicken.
While far from perfect, UK pesticide standards are some of the strongest in the world. A key priority for the USA during these talks is to weaken these protections. If this happens there will be larger amounts of toxic pesticides in UK food. Pesticides that the UK has banned for environmental reasons, such as bee-toxic neonicotinoids, also risk being re-authorised. Not only would this be disastrous for British farmers, who would be undermined by imports produced to poorer standards, it would also be extremely unpopular with the British public.
We need to recognise that food is as much a public concern as health and social care. Consumers are beginning to realise that by supporting local farmers and getting milk delivered, we are also protecting our countryside. As the Soil Association says, “Good food, let’s make it the easy choice for everyone, produced in a way that protects the natural world and allows every farm animal to feel the sun on their backs.”