OPINION: Have we lost our connection to the food we eat? - Daisy Snow

North Devon Gazette

This afternoon my daughter and I walked into my mum’s kitchen to find two dead pheasants lying on the table waiting to be plucked and prepared for dinner that evening.Â

I asked my daughter whether she’d like to help prepare them and she enthusiastically said yes. I set about showing her how to pluck them and as we sat there doing it in came an onslaught of fantastic, fascinated 4-year-old style questions about how the pheasant had lived, why it was killed and how.Â

I make no effort to glorify or hide the truth from her, and from a young age have always tried to explain fully the positive and negative aspects of the farming involved in producing the food we eat in hope of her respecting, appreciating and not wasting the food she eats.Â

I feel that we as a nation have lost our connection with food, it has become something that little time and money is spent on, the ease of just buying something from a supermarket means for most consumers, no sweat is made or callouses gained when simply picking something up off a shelf. Â

When you’ve physically and directly worked hard for something it is much less likely that you would throw that away, every gram of the fruits from labour is more likely to be cherished and appreciated when that labour has been your own.Â

Sadly, we are now in a time far from how things used to be, with shelves stacked with imported goods, laced in pesticides, packaged and processed to the hilt, it’s hard to imagine what we could do to regain that connection with the most important thing we all need, but there are options.Â

Christmas is a great time to really think about the food you are eating, where it has come from, how it was farmed and the amount of it actually needed. There are countless positive angles when we start to think about buying less but buying better, from our own health to animal welfare and from soil structures to supporting local farmers and businesses.Â

A traditional English Christmas dinner has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, long before imports, pesticides and supermarkets, so it really is the simplest of meals to buy in season ingredients for, from local farms and independent local shops, especially in this productive little county.Â

Around 10 million turkeys will be eaten this Christmas in the UK alone, and these predominantly will be raised in horrific, intensively farmed conditions, however, there is no denying it, a free range, locally reared turkey from a local butcher or farm shop is a lot more expensive than what can be found on a supermarket shelf, and for many people could be deemed as completely unaffordable. Â

As a nation we have got used to eating meat on a very regular basis, cheap, antibiotic ridden, intensively farmed meat. If we ate it less regularly, good quality, ethically produced meat would become affordable, especially if you take into consideration how much further it goes and how one bird could produce meals for the next few days for an average sized family.Â

With vegetables, there is less of a price gap in supermarket vs locally grown and of course less air miles and less packaging. The ingredients needed for a roast dinner are those that are naturally grown in England anyway and buying your veg from a local farm shop is directly supporting farmers rather than supermarkets that don’t pay fairly and waste so much.Â

Lastly, and almost the most frustrating thing of all, expensive, ready-made goods that are already being advertised such as Yorkshire puddings that are ready to go straight in the oven as though making them from scratch from the 3 most basic ingredients is a lost art form.Â

Food, being the main thing, (other than water and air), that we all need to survive, should not be about convenience or time saving, and if, over novelty gifts and plastic decorations, should be the thing we choose to spend more on because the connection and respect for it desperately needs to be regained.