Sunday, April 16, 2006

Britain is eating the planet

Rather like the day on which we start earning money for ourselves as opposed to for the tax man today is the day on which the UK stops living off its own resources and starts depending on imports from elsewhere. This is according to a report from the New Economics Foundation showing how dependent we are on resources from elsewhere in the world. Fairly stunning if not totally surprising and fairly indicative of the sorts of things we as a nation need to do if we are to change this. Growing and selling more of our own food and supplying it locally would be a good start. As would make use of natural sources of energy.

Tag Environment


Tristan said...

I think we've always depended on foreign resources though.
Its called trade, and its a good thing for us and for those we trade with.

The New Economics Foundation seems decidedly reactionary and puritanical to me. True there is much we could and should be doing, but isolating ourselves and living entirely off our own resources is not one of them.

Nicola said...

You beat me to it on this one - was saving for tomorrow !

I find it quite scary how little of our food we produce ourselves - let alone other goods.

Not only have we lost our ability to feed ourselves - but we insist on transporting it for miles unecessarily.

I am sure the European examples given in this piece serve to highlight some "red tape stupidity" like mutual claiming of subsidies - ie we will export this to you, and you will export this to us and then we can both claim the subsidy.

Richard Gadsden said...

Britain is not a good country, by and large, to grow food in, so it makes perfect sense to import the vast majority of food into Britain. Of course, identifying "we" as a particular set of borders is patently nonsensical, especially if the objective is to try to minimise transport because of the externalisation of cost.

Firstly, recall that the main reason for objecting to imports is not from some reactionary idea that trade is a bad thing, but because of transport externalities. It's surely the case someone in Belfast that eating bread made from wheat grown in Cavan (which is an import) is far better than eating bread made from wheat grown in Norfolk (which isn't an import, and which results in destruction of internationally important wetlands).

The USA is quite good on these measures, but only as a result of a huge breadbasket in the great plains, which then exports massive quantities of food to other parts of the USA.

Growing more food in a country that already has intensive agriculture is not sensible; stopping flying super-fresh fruit and vegetables around the world will achieve far more.

If the great wheat-fields of the Northern European Plain (mainly in modern Poland) and the Steppes (mainly in modern Ukraine) can recover their production levels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but with modern intensive techniques, then they can feed the entire European continent again, and far more efficiently than all but a handful of farms in the West. The fertility of the Vistula, Dneistr, Dneipr and Volga valleys is amazing.

What should be being grown more locally are foodstuffs that need to freshly picked within days of being eaten, which principally means salad vegetables and soft fruits. Eating strawberries that are grown locally, instead of in Spain would achieve far more than shifting wheat production from the US plains to East Anglia, in spite of the weight and value differential between wheat and strawberry consumption. (Why? Because strawberries are flown from Spain to Britain).

Che Guevara (Josh) said...

britan may nibbling on the planet but america is stuffing its face !! :)

Che Guevara (Josh) said...

britan may be nibbling on the planet but america is stuffing its face!! :)

Che Guevara (Josh) said...

britan may be nibbling on the planet but america is stuffing its face!! :)

Che Guevara (Josh) said...

britan may be nibbling on the planet but america is stuffing its face!! :)