Saturday 9 February 2013

Counting More Than Calories

The great horsemeat scandal is rolling on and one consequence is to highlight the complexity and vulnerability of the major part of our food supply, processing and distribution systems.  There is general amazement at how little it is regulated and how much is done beyond our knowledge.

The real surprise is that for a long time should anyone wanted to have looked at it and tried to work out what was going on where it has not been too difficult.  There have been a good many people doing this and publishing on it.  But they have been confined to the back pages of some quality media or to specialist interests.

Like the banks and major funds in the money markets the food supply has come to be governed by the big boys whose advertising affects the media, who’s lobbying controls the politicians and whose financial power governs the farmers and the distribution chains.

The consequence has been that we have health crises and other problems which owe much to many foods being reduced to near junk contaminated by many things in many ways.  Real food does not come in identical packets in identical boxes or packaging.  It is not identical in texture, taste, colour or shape.

Some of the damaging entities however are not due to the processing or the distributors.  There are many arguing now that humanity in its careless, indeed stupid use of resources has poisoned the planet in a way that we are all affected whether we like it or not.

One web site today pointed out the extent of contamination in earth, water and foods of all the discarded plastics from the last half century.  It argues that quite literally they are almost everywhere and affecting all we eat or drink.

This is in addition to all the many items that are put into the soil, leech into the water, are in the air and in the livestock and animals we consume and which we then take in whenever and wherever we sit down to eat and drink.

In the meantime my local council demands that to be environmentally friendly, all my discarded material has to be sorted into three bins.  They are made of plastic. 

Also, they are collected by wagons to be taken far away to be either put into the ground and therefore the ground water or burned in an incinerator which puts waste into the air or turns it into ash to be used as building material.

It is possible to go on and on about how the world of food supply has changed, with what results and how hard it is now to either control or reform it.  Given that twice in the last century the population was close to starvation levels one aspect is how easily our government has given up on UK farming in the last generation.

In our area many of the fields that either reared livestock or grew foods for local, regional and national consumption are now growing crops for biofuels.  Other land is used for anything except foods.  How long we can go on with this nobody knows.

These are the real problems.  What might be in your favourite burger is the least of them.  What is even sillier is that really some of us have known it for some time.

No comments:

Post a Comment