Buying British Could Be The Answer To Our Empty Shelves.
Updated: Jan 7
First published in The Havering Daily on 4th October 2021
As the world continues to battle with supply chain issues, ranging from a shortage in HGV drivers and covid restrictions on factories, it’s time we ask how post-Brexit Britain could cope. Much of the answer, I believe, can be found by looking at ourselves as much as we look abroad.
Romford, in fact Havering as a whole, is a special place to live. We’ve the benefits of London and the benefits of Essex. The jobs, theatres, and glitz of the city as well as the country and coast of Essex. It’s this balance that makes Havering able to thrive, if we choose for it to.
The world, right now, is going through a supply chain nightmare. Factories, across the world, are buckling under the pressure of Covid restrictions. Even China is seeing decreasing output from their factories. Europe’s largest nations are all announcing a shortage of HGV drivers and the price of oil is back on the way up. It’s a recipe for a disaster, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
According to DEFRA (the Government department that looks at the environment and food) the East of England is bursting with produce. We grow 34% of the UK’s Potatoes, 42% of it’s Turkeys, 26% of the nation’s pigs and that’s just the start. Our region is a powerhouse of food production and it’s all right on our doorstep.
Yet, all to often, when I go to a supermarket and pick up a bag of spuds the country of origin is somewhere like Spain. A third of our lamb is imported, with 70% of that coming all the way from New Zealand. Even Uruguay exports Lamb to the UK! Did you know that a single bowl of lamb stew, with Welsh Lamb, produces as much CO2 as 71 plastic bottles? Now imagine that with lamb from our friends down-under.
I believe we’re a nation capable of producing what we need.
We need to ask ourselves why we import so much food. Are UK farmers not able to meet the demand, or have we become to used to eating what we want whenever we want?
Eating seasonally brings many benefits. It helps us reduce the carbon footprint of our meals, as it travels less distance. It often tastes better. Even more importantly it costs less. A recent study showed the price of 1kg of strawberries rising from £1.79 in the summer to £3.40 in the winter. Seasonal eating is also healthier. Veg grown in their natural season produce more vitamins and nutrients. Even milk contains different nutrients depending on the season.
As the roads clog with queues for petrol. As our supermarket shelves begin to empty. As the warnings of ‘no toys for Christmas’ is splashed across our papers, I can’t help thinking that buying seasonal and buying British has an even more important benefit.
Our beautiful part of England is blessed with over 350 miles of coast. We’ve acres upon acres of stunning countryside and we’ve thousands of farms. I believe we’re a nation capable of producing what we need. But it won’t happen overnight.
By supporting our local butchers, farm shops, the veg and fish stalls that Romford is so lucky to have, we’ll be putting pounds in to the pockets of those who produce. By buying British we’ll encourage our producers to grow more, to hire more and to produce more. We’ll come to rely less on polluting lorries chugging up from Dover. We’ll be helping our environment.
It’s good for us to call on the government to support local farmers. It’s great that we protest for more support for British fisherman.
But it’s not all up to the government. We don’t need strawberries and lamb at Christmas.
Those of us who can should prioritise buying local and buying seasonally. It’s a win-win scenario if we do. The more we buy, the lower prices will become. The less trucks will be rattling around our motorways and the less carbon we’ll be chucking up into our atmosphere. The more jobs we’ll create and the more self-sustaining we’ll become. How strange a world we live in, that a boat stuck in the Egyptian desert can have such an impact on our lives.
Global Britain will then be global because we can, as opposed to being because we must.
Buying British may just be the answer to our empty shelves.