Saturday, February 01, 2014

Pssst! Where does your food come from?

As I was helping my good lady put away today's Tesco shopping, I happened to notice that the apples were sourced from France. Interest piqued, I started to look at some other items. This is what I found.

Apples - France
Bananas - Colombia
Pears - Netherlands
Satsumas - South Korea
Grapes - South Africa
Wild rocket - Italy

And that's just the fresh stuff. Add into that some wine from New Zealand, and I'm sure if I started rooting through the cupboards, fridge and freezer, I'd find a lot more stuff that had its origins far from these shores. I didn't though. More because her indoors would wonder what the hell I was doing rather than any lack of interest on my part!

Does this matter at all though? Well, I'm sure there are varying views with the inevitable polar extremes.

On the one hand it does matter - but for different reasons. For the producing countries it's welcome business. For the consumers it's the opportunity to have to hand produce and victuals that would otherwise be at best only seasonal in the UK, and even then some would be impossible on an economic scale - have you ever tried growing bananas in the UK?

The downside of course is the massive, massive logistical and ecological cost of shifting this stuff around the planet. Think how many container ships, planes and trucks there must be moving this around our seas, airspace and roads. I can't even begin to contemplate it. Then there are the arguments about the human costs of producing the stuff. Low wages, poor conditions etc, but I'm sure that's not universal.

But just think about it next time you eat a banana or satsuma. I eat a banana from half way across the world. A country I've never been to, and am unlikely ever to visit. Oh, that satsuma - it's from half way across the world but in the opposite direction. Somewhere else that to me its just more known for its export of footballers.

I'm not trying to state a particular argument for or against produce from other countries (and I like bananas and grapes anyway). But I think that we just take for granted sometimes that food comes from Tesco's or Asda's or Morrisons (or indeed Lidl, Aldi or the local corner shop), rather than realistically from another continent.

Just think about that for a moment.

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