Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Food is such an important daily choice

Food has so many roles in our lives - sustenance, social glue, source of enjoyment, a way of relating to the land and seasons...and much more besides. This, of course, has negative and positive impacts on personal, environmental, community, financial and global levels.

"The apple you eat is the landscape you get", the saying goes - although this is only part of the truth. The apple you eat also affects your health, your happiness, other people's health and happiness (i.e. social conditions of workers in the food chain), your carbon footprint and your personal finances.

Great Britain was once a land full of diverse varieties of fruits, with most villages boasting at least one variety of apple, pear, plum, damson or cherry. Over the course of just 60 years or so, most of the traditional orchards have been eroded for a number of reasons, from the Common Agricultural Policy to supermarket culture (or, more accurately, lack of culture!).

But through organisations such as Common Ground, many of the traditional varieties, which make up our cultural heritage and offer an an incredible source of flavours, qualities and colours of fruit, have started to make a come back. The Common Ground book of Orchards is a wonderful book that explores this culture, past and present, in some depth and is quite simply a wonderful book. If you're looking for an inspiring present, or a way to spend Christmas money, then this is a book anyone interested in rural culture shouldn't be without.

So, back to the point about food. The agricultural landscape of Scilly has gone from one in which the population could hold a good degree of reliance upon, to one which is largely managed for flowers, aesthetics and tourists. This landscape can only be sustained by (a) the tourist pound, (b) cheap fossil fuels and (c) a huge amount of imports on the Gry Maritha. In short, our resilience in food security is very poor.

Transition Scilly has plans to do quite a lot of work to improve local food production and availability, for it's such an important part of a positive future for the Islands. We welcome the involvement of everyone who wants to share in this vision. If you want to learn more then please get in touch.

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