Shouldn’t the Stable Door Have a Lock?

I recently read, with huge interest and not a little trepidation, Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy Part One – all 85 pages of it plus Appendices.

As documents of this type go I found it’s style engaging and couldn’t resist a little chortle at the ‘cooking more healthily (albeit less soberly)’ observation on the increase in sales of alcohol, fresh fruit and vegetables during the COVID-19 lockdown.

I was also intrigued by the lemon price spike during COVID-19 lockdown being caused by demand for hand sanitiser scent; and amazed at the origins of the ubiquitous Ploughman’s Lunch (an invention of the Milk Marketing Board to increase sales of cheese).

I certainly found myself agreeing with the recommendations regarding the Free School Meal scheme, not least because, as a nation, we need our youngsters to be at their best when learning – not only for their futures but also for our own. For similar reasons I welcomed the recommended extension to the Holiday Activity and Food Programme, as well as increasing the value of Healthy Start vouchers. The work of the Food and Other Essential Supplies to the Vulnerable Ministerial Task Force has also been a lifeline for many during the pandemic and deserves to be extended.

I therefore began reading the section on Food Security and preparing for Brexit with a positive frame of mind, especially the declaration that ‘there is no room for complacency when it comes to food security’.

I welcomed the proposed scrutiny for new international trade deals that is independent, evidence-based, holistic and statutory. However I cannot deny that the National Food Strategy’s endorsement of the government’s support for a dual tariff approach, did sour my mood as, almost certainly, it will have soured the moods of many in the national agricultural and food production sectors who have spent their lives trying to support the world-leading standards we have here for fresh produce, animal welfare, human welfare and the Environment. A dual-tariff policy, no matter how well scrutinised is the door that allows food of lower quality to enter the UK; in some cases, having been exposed to chemicals banned in our nation.

I fear there will come a time when that open stable door won’t be that easy to close after all.

Phil Acock

Managing Director of Fourayes, Vice-Chair of British Apples & Pears and Fruitician.

As documents of this type go I found it’s style engaging and couldn’t resist a little chortle at the ‘cooking more healthily (albeit less soberly)’ observation on the increase in sales of alcohol, fresh fruit and vegetables during the COVID-19 lockdown.

I was also intrigued by the lemon price spike during COVID-19 lockdown being caused by demand for hand sanitiser scent; and amazed at the origins of the ubiquitous Ploughman’s Lunch (an invention of the Milk Marketing Board to increase sales of cheese).

I certainly found myself agreeing with the recommendations regarding the Free School Meal scheme, not least because, as a nation, we need our youngsters to be at their best when learning – not only for their futures but also for our own. For similar reasons I welcomed the recommended extension to the Holiday Activity and Food Programme, as well as increasing the value of Healthy Start vouchers. The work of the Food and Other Essential Supplies to the Vulnerable Ministerial Task Force has also been a lifeline for many during the pandemic and deserves to be extended.

I therefore began reading the section on Food Security and preparing for Brexit with a positive frame of mind, especially the declaration that ‘there is no room for complacency when it comes to food security’.

I welcomed the proposed scrutiny for new international trade deals that is independent, evidence-based, holistic and statutory. However I cannot deny that the National Food Strategy’s endorsement of the government’s support for a dual tariff approach, did sour my mood as, almost certainly, it will have soured the moods of many in the national agricultural and food production sectors who have spent their lives trying to support the world-leading standards we have here for fresh produce, animal welfare, human welfare and the Environment. A dual-tariff policy, no matter how well scrutinised is the door that allows food of lower quality to enter the UK; in some cases, having been exposed to chemicals banned in our nation.

I fear there will come a time when that open stable door won’t be that easy to close after all.

Phil Acock

Managing Director of Fourayes, Vice-Chair of British Apples & Pears and Fruitician.