I was thinking about our attitude to food, we’re the first society with a general expectation of being able to get what we want when we want it. The old Victorian great house gardeners invested huge amounts of time and (cheap) manpower to provide the big house with food outside of its normal season. Now we expect our supermarket to have fresh fruit and vegetables available 365 days a year.
Even frozen produce is relatively new. It wasn’t until the 1970s that home freezers started to be popular and affordable to us masses.
We tend to take the view that what doesn’t grow we don’t eat. Tomatoes are a bit of a staple though, so if worst comes to the worst with the blight this year then we’ll probably cheat and buy some tinned tomatoes for cooking with.
In our global food system Russia is an important exporter and this will inevitably cause price increases globally. The actual cost of grain is a small part of the cost of a loaf in Britain, most of the cost is production and distribution. So the cost of a loaf may go up 10p or even as much as 20p which won’t cause riots, although it will hit the poorest most in the pocket. It’s bound to have a knock-on effect on the price of other staples like rice as well.
Once again, not enough to cause major problems in Britain. However, those third world countries already on the edge will really suffer and riots in the street are likely for them.
I’ve a strong feeling that in coming years, as population increases, the supply and demand situation will worsen and home growing will cease to be just a hobby and become a necessity.
Britain is, and has been for many years, a net importer of food. Even in the Second World War with ‘Dig for Victory’ and Land Girls drafted into farming we couldn’t supply all our own needs – and food was rationed.
I’m sure we won’t cope with twice the war-time population and a situation where few are willing to export food. The Chinese are thinking ahead and buying up vast tracts of land in Africa to farm for their own needs. We’re going to need to make much better use of our own resources.
Our governments tend to think ahead as far as the next election yet these problems are really going bite in 20 to 40 years.
Farming and gardening are long term occupations, it took me 5 years to get the soil something like on my allotments. Now is the time for government to start thinking realistically about providing for a changed world situation and providing allotments that may even be empty for a few years until the hobby becomes a necessity.
I really don’t think we’ll succeed in feeding 70 million people from our own land but we’re going to have to produce a far higher proportion of our food than we do now.