The UK Government has launched a public consultation on the future of our food and food production: https://www.nationalfoodstrategy.org/ If you are interested in your food and are in the UK, I urge you to put in at least a comment, more voices are essential.
My initial contribution is here, below, followed by (not one but) three free recipes!
As one who values the quality of the food we eat, the well-being of the animals whom we raise and consume and the long-term health of the environment of which we are all a part, I am deeply concerned about the future direction of our food production and import/export strategies.
I hear and see conflicting messages and strategies between areas such as economic activity, trade deals and food production that are at the least hampering and at worst actively preventing the changes to farming practices, food processing and trading, animal welfare and the related industries that we must make, starting this year, to achieve a genuinely sustainable way of living that promotes human and animal health and well-being.
Henry Dimbleby [the appointed lead for this consultation] rightly states:
“Intensive farming practises have caused serious damage to the environment and the food related disease is costing the NHS billions and drastically harming the lives of millions. Food security, too, is a growing concern: population growth, climate change, the global increase in meat eating are intensifying resource competition between nations”
but, even with so many influential people saying all the right words, we see examples of the likelihood of deeply unequal trade deals with (eg) the USA that will require us to accept and, through participation, support the very farming practices that are continuing to damage soil and organisms upon which we depend for healthy crops and continuted intensive crop and animal production to provide greater meat supplies; these [and other] actions contradict the fine words, however popular they may be among the many people who resist examining the consequences of their own actions. This is the route to disaster for us all.
Leaving the EU will open some opportunities for a few but, for the majority, I see no benefits and considerable harm arising from our weakened position in the world. Nevertheless, what this will demand is that we make real and immediate changes to domestic agricultural and fishing policies and practices in favour of both reducing harmful outputs (carbon emissions, chemical runoff and fossil energy consumption) and making more resilient domestic production networks.
It requires genuine, long-sighted political leadership of the kind not well-suited to our short-term democratic processes and certainly not in evidence of late. This may well require doing things that are unpopular – whether this means raising the cost of all forms of meat, standing our ground in trade negotiations in respect of food production methods and standards or working collaboratively with our neighbours in agreeing to restrict marine exploitation for the long-term benefit of that ecosystem, not the short-term benefit of a voting constituency. We may all have to share the load of supporting people through the transition from harmful to sustainable food production methods; we will all share in the future benefits.
Political courage and vision, both lacking at present, are urgently needed for this, based upon evidence and not nostalgia, tradition or ideas of cultural identity that are sustaining the unsustainable.
I look forward to seeing how this “debate” unfolds and contributing to it, as long as it becomes a genuine cause of action and not just another “consultation” that is ignored in favour of short-term expediency and dubious deals. It is time to walk the talk.
Thank you for reading this far, here are some recipes: bon appetit/eet smaakelijk!
Recipe 1: butternut squash and grilled red pepper soup
chop it all up small, grill strips of the pepper first then chop.
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded
1 onion, fried in the pan first
Olive or rapeseed or coconut oil
Ground black pepper to taste
Finely chopped ginger root
(Optional ground coriander seeds or ground cardamom seeds)
Chop it all up, fry onions then add all except the pepper, add enough water or veg stock to just float it all, boil then simmer for about 20min, blend until as smooth as you like, add chopped grilled pepper.
I like to stir in or garnish with coconut milk or yogurt.
Recipe 2: Non-dairy Whack-a-mole!
Guacamole without dairy content: I substituted non-dairy soft cheese (from Sainsburys) for the usual cream, non-dairy yogurt or coconut milk would also do, plus mashed up avocado with lemon juice and pepper, a bit of sea salt too…
It was so nice that I forgot to take a photo, sorry, though it still looks like green mush so you can imagine it easily enough!
Recipe 3: Giant Puffball Fungus Feast
One of the advantages of cycling to work is that I can notice and stop to harvest some lovely wild food, yesterday I picked up one of these, about grapefruit sized, from the verge on a lane near home. It’s the first one I’ve ever found in perfect cooking condition.
This website gives good identification information and a recipe, which I used as below and per the attached photos. mushroom-appreciation.com [you’ll have to search on that site for Giant Puffball, they’d moved the page I originally linked to, it’s a good site]
I ate half last night and the rest is in the fridge…. I’ve got my eye on another one growing there…
A white wine would go well with it, in moderation of course, or Elderflower cordial. It has a delicate taste and a nice soft but not slimy texture when cooked that reminds me of a slightly firm Brie.
Washed, sliced, fried in olive & rapeseed oil, dipped in egg & seasoned (pepper, a bit of salt) flour, fried again, served with omelette &peppers, plus a blob of non-dairy (coconut-based) cream cheese, natural yogurt or a mild creamy cheese would do too. better with a simple salad or crisp stir fried greens, maybe stir-fried sunflower seeds with sea salt. Nothing too strongly flavoured or you’ll miss the point of the fungus. The egg and flour (or breadcrumbs) gives a nice crispy coating.