Farm Business October 2009

The campaign to bring about a supermarket ombudsman is hotting up and has my full support.  I don’t begrudge the success of the major retailers one bit, so long as it has been achieved through fair play to each and every one of its suppliers.  As I write this, Sky News is reporting that campaigners ‘dressed as supermarket bigwigs and bound-and-gagged farmers are lobbying the Government for an independent ombudsman to curb the exploitation of food suppliers’.  The ‘big four’ supermarkets are resisting this course of action.  I am less surprised by this than I am by the fact that, yet again in my view, food service has slipped through the net. .  I believe that a major enquiry should be held into food service and that the ombudsman’s brief should cover the whole, multi-billion pound food service arena as well.

I offer no apology for banging on about food service as I have another gripe.  It’s as though the responsibility for the nation’s poor diet and the obesity ‘epidemic’ is laid solely at the feet of the retailers and their suppliers.  When an increasingly high percentage of our food eaten out of the home, food service outlets should bear an equal, if not greater, share of the responsibility to lead the way and help consumers make better choices.  Yet, with the advent of the 2012 Olympics in London what is the food and drink contract boast?  McDonalds and Coca-Cola – both of whom are of course major sponsors, but have also been linked as the official branded food outlets at this event with the suggestion that other food brands will be excluded from the Olympic Park.

Have we gone mad?  Not only is London the most ethnically diverse capital in the world, but we will be hosting athletes and visitors from all over the world.  How often do we as a nation have the opportunity to show off the cuisine of that ethnic diversity?  Are these visitors going to be prevented from enjoying and sharing some of the culinary delights enjoyed by these diverse communities?  We must lobby for a food village that celebrates the diversity of our city and its cuisine – British, Indian, Caribbean, Chinese, South American … As for the health message – again what does this juxtaposition communicate to our youngsters?  The single biggest sporting event featuring athletes at the peak of their performance and the best we can offer is McDonalds and Coca-Cola.  Give me strength.

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~ by theblackfarmer on January 20, 2010.

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