is our food good enough to eat?

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
appears not according to one Graham Harvey a journalist with an agricultural degree who argues that most of our fruit and vegetables are depleted of essential minerals and vitamens and that it is that depletion which is leading to our chronic modern day illnesses such as cancer , arthritis and heart disease. In fact its no better than cardboard.Apparently the fault lies in our growing methods, the fact that our soil is now very poor 9 no nutrients)with few earthworms and consequently farmers have to make do with tonnes of artificial fertiliser and pesticides in order to produce yield. Our farms have become nothing more than food factories.The way to tell how poor the the fruit and veg are is by taste. If good they should be sweet and rich in flavour.Even some organic produce is no good because its been grown in soil thats already knackered . On top of that the produce is picked too soon in order to extend shelf life.
As for meat/dairy ? well that doesnt come off ligtly either because of what rel;evant animals are fed with ,what they are inoculated with( growth hormones) and how they are kept( in the case of pigs and chicken in confined spaces). Cows and sheep are ruminants( chew the cud) who MOSTLY feed on grass . They also need a WIDE VARIETY of grasses as well as clover. What are the clowns( so caled farmers) doing? They sow rye grass because it regenerates quickly and is hard wearing but feeding cows on that alone is just about worse than useless for they NEED variety . Now some farmers compound the felony by giving their cattle a diet based mainly on grain which whilst making them grow faster is lethal for some and doesnt provide the nutrients we need. This is as true with dairy as it is with meat.A liitle grain is ok but too much is bad news. The wholke thing is just a massive money making exercise no doubt made worse by a useless ec common agricultural policy.
Before the war the term organic farming didnt exist for it was all produced in that manner . Food tasted better and people were generally healthier. Even during the war with its restrictions health was better because Vegetables, which formed the greater part of the diet ,was a of a higher quality than today. Meat used to be imported from Argentina at least bovine and some ovine was and jolly good it was too for they were( and i htink still are) predominantly fed on pasture.
So whats to be done ? Demand real food thats what. ask to see where and how the food is produced. Go to farmers markets but be warned these are expensive because its a niche and there is no such thing as an offarm to regulate prices( should be in my view as its too important)Contact the Soil association and ask for a lsit of real food providers.
 

lee789

Active Member
I agree with some of that. We try and eat organic food, my wifes very keen on this. I'm also keen, particularly for meat where organic standards are much better for the welfare of animals.

However, my big gripe is that much of supermarkets organic food is sourced from half way round the world, persumably on cost. But that goes against part of the organic ethos in my opinion.

As an example, tescos organic potatoes seem to be sourced from Israel - can we not grow them in this country ? Apples sourced from the USA ? Again, why can't they be sourced in the UK. Probably price.

We've tried one of those box schemes but found it difficult to use everything that came , there were too much of some things and not enough of others.

We don't have a local farmers market, so it is difficult. (We do have a great butcher though - so no need for Argentinian beef ;) ). But I agree with your sentiments.
 

BobBob21

Well-known Member
They are expensive because they get less produce per acre as much because of the niche market aspect.

The "problem" is that whilst farmers markets tend to be a little more expensive than supermarkets they can afford to be "that cheap" because they cut out the middle men and the cost of distribution. If we were to see "properly" grown produce in the supermarkets then the price would be massively higher because these costs are then added back into the equation.

The one thing your comments fail to mention is the fact that the consumers are heavily to blame too. In the UK we want our fruit and veg to look perfect and so farmers have to grow crops which meet this demand rather than the varieties that taste the best. The classic one on this is strawberries - inevitably we need to distribute food and as people want a punnet of perfect fruit then farmers need to grow a variety which is much harder and so tolerant to being shipped around the country - unfortunately they taste more like turnip than strawberries. Waitrose this year had another variety which were much softer and tasted amazing, unfortunately lots of people werent buying them because in every punnet there were at least one or two which had got squashed/ bashed and didnt "look nice".
 

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
What Graham harvey argues is that we should buy food produced locally as much as possible because of its freshness
 

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
The one thing your comments fail to mention is the fact that the consumers are heavily to blame too. In the UK we want our fruit and veg to look perfect and so farmers have to grow crops which meet this demand rather than the varieties that taste the best. The classic one on this is strawberries - inevitably we need to distribute food and as people want a punnet of perfect fruit then farmers need to grow a variety which is much harder and so tolerant to being shipped around the country - unfortunately they taste more like turnip than strawberries. Waitrose this year had another variety which were much softer and tasted amazing, unfortunately lots of people werent buying them because in every punnet there were at least one or two which had got squashed/ bashed and didnt "look nice".




completely agree. Its down to us
 
C

Chumpy

Guest
tbh I find much of the meat, fruit, and veg available down here in Berkshire to be very poor. Whenever I go back to see the folks in Lincolnshire I always come back with local produce which tastes 10 times better and is about a quarter of the price I'd pay down here.

I do find it quite amusing that some supermarkets now sell fruit labelled as 'seconds' because it is not as aesthetically pleasing as someone thinks it should be - what a joke!
 

NicolasB

Distinguished Member
I've been grumbling about this for years, but no one ever pays any attention. :(

I think this is mostly the fault of the British public rather than the supermarkets. As la gran siete says, shoppers prefer something that looks good to something that tastes good; they also overwhelmingly prefer something that is cheap to something that tastes good. British supermarkets simply wouldn't get away with selling this kind of cr*p in a country like France or Italy, but here they can, so they do.

Mind you, exactly the same thing applies to AV. The average member of the public wants a cheap TV more than he wants one with a good picture; and the average AV "enthusiast" cares more about what the case of a piece of audio equipment looks like than he cares about the sound quality. :(
 

BobBob21

Well-known Member
NicolasB said:
British supermarkets simply wouldn't get away with selling this kind of cr*p in a country like France or Italy

I dont think it is a case of "getting away" with it at all, it is what customers demand. If supermarkets can sell 500 kg of carrots a day making £1 per kg pure profit it makes no difference to them if it happens to be cheap mass produced food or expensive properly cultivated food.

They would probably prefer the more expensive produce anyway because there is then more scope for a profit margin for them.
 

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
Chumpy said:
tbh I find much of the meat, fruit, and veg available down here in Berkshire to be very poor. Whenever I go back to see the folks in Lincolnshire I always come back with local produce which tastes 10 times better and is about a quarter of the price I'd pay down here.

I do find it quite amusing that some supermarkets now sell fruit labelled as 'seconds' because it is not as aesthetically pleasing as someone thinks it should be - what a joke!

i thionk he was refering to fruit and veg in the main
There also the small metter of what breed of cattle is used. For beef choose Hereford,Devon Shorthorn Sussex or Aberdeen angus( most of the Argie beef comes these breeds and many of the farmers are of British descent). For dairy Guernsey Ayrshire Jersey and Friesian. Stay clear of cattle fed on soya -not good for ruminants. Lamb is usualy the safest choice for they sppend most of their lives outdoors but some early lambing stock may be finished quickly by using cereal based feed in order to meet a lucrative early market
 
C

Chumpy

Guest
Yep, spot on, the meat is around the same price, but again, the flavour is completely different.
 

SanPedro

Well-known Member
I was a bit sceptical about a lot of organic food at first, but after tasting some of the locally grown veg at our nearest organic shop I am now a convert these days. Mind you it doesn't half cost!!!.

But the taste of good quality fruit and veg is something that most people under the age of (I'd guess 30) have never tasted unless they shop at local markets or good quality butchers, greengrocers etc.
 

Ian J

Banned
NicolasB said:
I've been grumbling about this for years, but no one ever pays any attention. :(

I think this is mostly the fault of the British public rather than the supermarkets.

I would take it one step further as I think that it's all the fault of the buying public as on the whole they are completely disinterested in what they eat and will happily buy whatever crap the supermarket sells without fuss. Not enough people care enough about food and are happy to let the supermarkets dictate what we eat and naturally they respond by giving us what is the mosr profitable for them.

I am astounded at some of the rubbish that punters will buy starting off at the hard round orangey things masquerading as tomatoes or the pretty lumps of cardboard sold as strawberries.

Shut your eyes whilst eating the sunday roast and you won't really know what you're eating as it all tastes the same. Most people under the age of 35 have probably never seen a Sunday joint with a bone in it as the supermarkets in their infinite wisdom have decided that the housewife can't cope with carving round a bone so have removed something that adds a huge amount of flavour to the meat.

Most people probably don't know how nice a joint of pork should taste as the beasts are now restrained so that they can't move and artificially fattened using a concoction of hormones so that they end up completely flavourless. Luckily we live quite close to Packington Organic Pork Farms and I am happy to make a 10 mile round trip for a joint of pork that tastes of something. I always buy a loin joint on the bone for extra flavour as even Packington now remove the bones from the leg before sale.

Fish used to be one thing that was never messed about with until someone came up with the idea of farming that king of fish - salmon. The farmed fish spends every day of it's life floating in a lake waiting to be fed with some hormone enriched food so that it's body is now mainly fat and tastes very bland. Salmon should spend it's life swimming resulting in a meat that actually tastes of something. The latest crime is to farm Sea Bass which is another previously tasty fish that Sainsbury now sells as a tasteless farmed variety but at an expensive price.

What makes me smile is the amount of people eating their microwaved ready meal whilst sitting watching Masterchef or something similar on the TV
 

Monty Burns

Well-known Member
NicolasB said:
...... British supermarkets simply wouldn't get away with selling this kind of cr*p in a country like France or Italy, but here they can, so they do.
....

Why? Is it a France or Italy thing? Whats so special about them? Genuinly curious.

Over here in Germany its exactly the same sort of "cr*p" in my local Norma or Aldi as Tesco's or Waitrose .... at least as far as my taste buds are concerned. :D
 

Ian J

Banned
Monty Burns said:
Why? Is it a France or Italy thing? Whats so special about them? Genuinly curious.

French & Italians in common with other Mediterranean countries care about food much more than Brits and would kick up a fuss if their shops tried to palm them off with the rubbish that our supermarkets sell.
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
The wife brought some strawberries home the other day. They are out of season so these things had probably come out of a hothouse somewhere.

They were revolting...the taste wasn't even identifiable as strawberry and even though they were ripe they were very hard.

Average tomatoes in the supermarket don't even smell nice let alone taste of anything.
 

overkill

Distinguished Member
Ian J said:
French & Italians in common with other Mediterranean countries care about food much more than Brits and would kick up a fuss if their shops tried to palm them off with the rubbish that our supermarkets sell.
I've bought plenty of food in French and Italian shops and frankly wasn't blown away with either freshness or taste - unless as in the orginal argument, it was locally grown. In Germany the food was b***** awful! Even the insipid muck we buy here was relief when I got back!

The basic problem with British farming goes back to WW2. They were encouraged to 'go big' so that we would be self sufficent food wise. Unfortunately, it led to huge soil erosion, poorer and poorer yields and quality, and more and more food being imported. Add to that huge areas of Britain have now been poisoned beyond use by too extensive application of chemical fertilisers (roughly 20%), the use of poor feed and steroids (amongst other illegal drugs) with livestock and you have a pretty poor look out for consumers.

Our cereal (for human consumption) comes from the USA, and much of our veg is sourced overseas due to better prices and soil quality.

The idea of everyone going local is hopelessly idealistic (surprise, from an Ivory tower merchant) and unsustainable.

Even 'Organic' food is questionable. The label is so broad under DEFRA rules that in fact chemical pesticides etc can still be used, just not to the same degree.

It would be nice to go back to 'home grown' veg and meat as the norm but not unless we want farm labourers to be earning even less than the pittance they already do, for much of the countryside to disappear under glass. or be left fallow (in much of England) for over a decade for the soil to recover sufficently even for proper grazing for quality livestock. How many farmers can afford that?

Market gardening of course, being the only profitable, non subsidised, area of UK farming........

It's all very well blaming the consumer, the supermarket, and the farmer but a lot of this is down to poor planning by past govt's and farmers - not the current generation.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Slightly related, I'm not happy about the US forcing the UK to accept GM food, without necessary indications on labels due to "fair competition". of course, I don't know the pro/cons...although it is some way off? Or have I got it wrong?

Re thread, I don't know what "quality" supposedly is. All that pretentious Gordon Ramsey, Masterchef TV stuff is pretty, but I'm 18, a student and realistically can't afford "quality" ingredients. My parents have neither the time /budget to shop for these items. And they both work full time so I'm self sufficient. I don't do readymeals; I can cook a little, but people like me need to be told practical advice rather than the same rhetoric all the time. Where in Manchester can I buy "quality" that is cheap and won't be a trek to access?

Please don't answer those questions. I'm happy with supermarket rubbish :D

Also I tried organic fruit once and honestly couldn't tell that much a diff.
 

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
Monty Burns said:
Why? Is it a France or Italy thing? Whats so special about them? Genuinly curious.

Over here in Germany its exactly the same sort of "cr*p" in my local Norma or Aldi as Tesco's or Waitrose .... at least as far as my taste buds are concerned. :D
Italians and the French care far more about food than we do, both in quality of preparation and ingrediants. They are taught at an early age what to look for and what to discard. The Brits , by contrast and if my experiences as a child is anything go by,attitude is to be grateful for whats on offer and not be so fussy.
The French know more about food than they do about politics. One of the first things I noticed when i came to live in the UK back in 1969 was the appalling quality of restaurant food. Nasty puddings were served with a concoction called evaporated milk instead of cream:eek: This despite the fact we were surrounded by cows:confused: Spagehtti came out of a tin and had a nasty insipid tomato sauce. sausages consisted of fat, grisle meal and colourings I could go on but I wont.Its better now but Ian is right its up to us to DEMAND better food. Its consumer led after all.
 

Ian J

Banned
LFC_SL said:
I'm 18, a student and realistically can't afford "quality" ingredients.

Yes you can. I was wandering round Morrisons today and noticed on their deli counter that they were selling huge ham hocks for £1.09 so I bought one.

I will make lentil stew using onion, carrot and celery and a carton of tomato juice and will cook the lentils in the ham hock for the flavour then cut all of the meat off the hock and chuck it into the pot as I'm not a vegetarian. Including a french stick to serve with it the whole lot will cost about £2.50 and will give the two of us a hearty dinner with enough for several more servings being deposited in the freezer too.
 

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
LFC_SL said:
Slightly related, I'm not happy about the US forcing the UK to accept GM food, without necessary indications on labels due to "fair competition". of course, I don't know the pro/cons...although it is some way off? Or have I got it wrong?

Re thread, I don't know what "quality" supposedly is. All that pretentious Gordon Ramsey, Masterchef TV stuff is pretty, but I'm 18, a student and realistically can't afford "quality" ingredients. My parents have neither the time /budget to shop for these items. And they both work full time so I'm self sufficient. I don't do readymeals; I can cook a little, but people like me need to be told practical advice rather than the same rhetoric all the time. Where in Manchester can I buy "quality" that is cheap and won't be a trek to access?

Please don't answer those questions. I'm happy with supermarket rubbish :D

Also I tried organic fruit once and honestly couldn't tell that much a diff.
with so much convenience food floating around its hardly surprising people don bother to prepare their own using good quality ingrediants. Its starts at home and its up to our parents to teach us about the importance of good food. Its only as you get older that you begin to wonder about the gunk oyu feed yourself with and what its doing to you. For example most processed food use semi hydrogented or hydrogenated oil ( Margarine)i and if you want to learn something about it read this :

www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/A3160630

its gunk pure and simple and should carry a health warning. You are better off eating mounds of lard and butter than that sh&*e!
 

overkill

Distinguished Member
la gran siete said:
Italians and the French care far more about food than we do, both in quality of preparation and ingrediants. They are taught at an early age what to look for and what to discard. The Brits , by contrast and if my experiences as a child is anything go by,attitude is to be grateful for whats on offer and not be so fussy.
The French know more about food than they do about politics. One of the first things I noticed when i came to live in the UK back in 1969 was the appalling quality of restaurant food. Nasty puddings were served with a concoction called evaporated milk instead of cream:eek: This despite the fact we were surrounded by cows:confused: Spagehtti came out of a tin and had a nasty insipid tomato sauce. sausages consisted of fat, grisle meal and colourings I could go on but I wont.Its better now but Ian is right its up to us to DEMAND better food. Its consumer led after all.
Sorry Siete, this may sound 'little Englander' but having been to France more than few times I cannot ever say I've ever been that impressed with their much vaunted cooking. Maybe I've been unlucky (I'm fully prepared to admit that) but nothing I've had so far was that special. Quite a bit of it was b***** awful in fact.........

It was the same when I went out in Germany to sample the 'legendary' German Beer. After a fortnight it was, oooooh dear! Not so good! Only the Belgian beer I had has so far lived up to it's 5 star billing.

That's not to say however, that I'm blown away by the bland pap we call food. Hence my diet consists of mexican, curries, Italian etc, etc.:D

The consumer can try and force supermarkets to stock more local produce, but, as above, from where, and who's going to supply it? Having worked with British farmers for six years I have very little faith or trust in them, whether the food is 'locally' produced or not. If we switched over to organic, and totally locally sourced food overnight we'd see the return of the first famines since the 19th C. Because that's how long we've been importing food into this country.........
 

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
overkill said:
Sorry Siete, this may sound 'little Englander' but having been to France more than few times I cannot ever say I've ever been that impressed with their much vaunted cooking. Maybe I've been unlucky (I'm fully prepared to admit that) but nothing I've had so far was that special. Quite a bit of it was b***** awful in fact.........

It was the same when I went out in Germany to sample the 'legendary' German Beer. After a fortnight it was, oooooh dear! Not so good! Only the Belgian beer I had has so far lived up to it's 5 star billing.

That's not to say however, that I'm blown away by the bland pap we call food. Hence my diet consists of mexican, curries, Italian etc, etc.:D

The consumer can try and force supermarkets to stock more local produce, but, as above, from where, and who's going to supply it? Having worked with British farmers for six years I have very little faith or trust in them, whether the food is 'locally' produced or not. If we switched over to organic, and totally locally sourced food overnight we'd see the return of the first famines since the 19th C. Because that's how long we've been importing food into this country.........
I am not saying that all a French cooking is good ,some of it is indeed awful just as some of our restaurants are very good but generally they are regarded as people who understand food better than us .I wne to calais once and Boulogne once and the food I received in two places was disgusting. I then noticed there were no French people in there and came away with the impression that these places were reserved for the ignorant Anglais. They also seemed to palm of their worst wines towards us as well.
Its an ideal which is worth planning for in the long term . Get our soils fertile again, grow fruit and veg that are indigenous to us so that they form basics and add to by importing what is necessary. As I said before Argie beef used to be imported on a huge scale and it was always good . Why not do so again? tbf completely organic for all is not realistic as it would never meet demand but I think it needs to be promoted as much as possible and people should be encouraged to prepare their own food instead of buying all the precooked garbage
 

overkill

Distinguished Member
la gran siete said:
I am not saying that all a French cooking is good ,some of it is indeed awful just as some of our restaurants are very good but generally they are regarded as people who understand food better than us .I wne to calais once and Boulogne once and the food I received in two places was disgusting. I then noticed there were no French people in there and came away with the impression that these places were reserved for the ignorant Anglais. They also seemed to palm of their worst wines towards us as well.
Its an ideal which is worth planning for in the long term . Get our soils fertile again, grow fruit and veg that are indigenous to us so that they form basics and add to by importing what is necessary. As I said before Argie beef used to be imported on a huge scale and it was always good . Why not do so again? tbf completely organic for all is not realistic as it would never meet demand but I think it needs to be promoted as much as possible and people should be encouraged to prepare their own food instead of buying all the precooked garbage
Trouble is Siete, is that our farming industry is at a crossroads. Post 1988 the best (ie best for development) land has been steadily sold off. On the other hand the problems in agriculture, which, it has to be said, are in no small part down to the farmers, over the last twenty to thirty years have made the industry less and less profitable - unless you're into agribusiness.

Some feel we should be (as a nation) buying up farms as they are sold off and turning them over to National trust or whatever as there is no use agriculture wise, for many farms in areas long 'used up'.

Farms by the same token need to make a profit. Since the 80's banks are less and less willing to prop up businesses any more and agriculture is no exception. So, rather sadly, there is nothing for the farmer to gain from long term planning.

Even ideas like energy crops are spurned, despite the fact these can be ploughed back in to a large extent, and used to naturally replenish the soil. There is just not enough profit in them, and farmers being naturaly Conservative are not keen on 'new fangled ideas' - unless they show a quick return. In our area there was a 0.3% takeup.

So, the question that many in the 'know' are asking is, where do we go from here?

We can either:-

1) carry on propping up with huge subsidies, as we did in the 80's, sagging farms and farmers.
2) use tax payers money to buy up farm land as it's sold off to 'protect it' from development.
2b) subsidise farms not to grow crops long term (as we already are on polluted farms) until the soil has fully, and naturally recovered (at least a ten year process).
3) carry on as we are at the moment, using the same logic that the farmers themselves supported wholeheartedly with regards heavy industry in the 80's. I.e. that the industry and farming communities are not profitable without help, the tax payer should not be expected to bail them out, and as such market forces should see them, apart from the 'success stories' die off 'naturally'.

As you can see, there are major problems with all of these.
 

la gran siete

Distinguished Member
it all sounds too depressing:( maybe the french had the right idea protecting their small communities and their traditional methods Leave our lands fallow the next ten years and then revert to old trusted methods ie crop rotation. There would be losers of course just as they would be in the fishing industry if they did the right thing(EC that is) and enforced a ten year moratorium on cod fishing to allow stocks to replenish. The Cap need s to change of that there is no doubt.
At the end of the day the Governement has to make hard decissions which will affect some but would guarantee some kind of long term future for our lands and for future generations. i f they dont well end up with a dustbowl or a desert.I guess we will have to come to the aid fo the small struggling farmers in some way offering new job opportunities and training and the big ones can sink or swim
 

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