Phil Haughton, the influential founder of Bristol-based Better Food and local organic food champion, told the BBC’s Today programme this morning that he wanted to “celebrate” the shortages of supply of some salad and fruit crops recently experienced by UK supermarkets.
He told Today’s Mishal Husain: “That might sound rather odd but for me it’s another opportunity to wake up and realise what’s wrong with our food system. And these are issues that are unknown to us most of the time. So when we receive a shock like this we are educated. That has got to be good because the more we know about food, the more likely we are to make better choices and change the system.
Asked about Better Food’s sourcing policy on fresh produce, Haughton said: “We don’t have any imports coming in by airfreight, so in that sense we do cut ourselves short. We are very happy to work with farmers and producers who have really good seasonal produce within their region.
Haughton agreed that most people are a still long way from eating mostly seasonal produce: “But do we really want strawberries all year round? What are we getting from that? If you think about that for a moment you realise there’s a lot of energy and heat going into that production, despite it being in Spain. There’s a lot of irrigation going into it. Are you have acres and acres and acres of polytunnels blighting the landscape.”
“Let’s be really clear about this. Good food is exclusive. There’s almost nothing we can do about that right now, but we can work to change the system. And in the kind of system that I’m talking about food cannot be cheap”
Acknowledging that customers at stores like Better Food are paying an appreciable price premium, Haughton said: “Let’s be really clear about this. Good food is exclusive. There’s almost nothing we can do about that right now, but we can work to change the system. And in the kind of system that I’m talking about food cannot be cheap. I really take my hat off to to all those people who go out and buy really good food. Because they know they are spending more than I have to. They know they could go down to Aldi or Lidl and buy something for half the price, probably. I really honour those people for making those judgements, and for saying that fairness, humanity, and planet are more important to me – and I’m going to do it. But I might eat little list lettuce in the winter.”