Organic food in the UK

The organic food craze is still at heart an industrial phenomenon, and is bumping up against some limits on non-industrial techniques. In Britain the growth of organic food sales has slowed dramatically; the demand is greater than ever, but the supply is topping out. A large part of the reason is that small organic producers are finding it difficult to adapt to the requirements of the industrial food chain:

Last week, after more than 30 years in organic farming, [Patrick Holden] was sacked by Sainsbury’s as a supplier for not reaching the supermarket’s ‘quality standard’. Holden had the comfort of being in the rarefied company of Prince Charles, whose contract with Sainsbury’s was terminated for a similar reason.

Holden says his experience exposes an industry in grave danger of becoming a victim twice over – it is a casualty of its own success and suffers from demands placed on it by the larger retailers intent on guaranteeing quality.

‘There is a damaging gulf growing between demand and supply for local, organic produce. But the issue is exacerbated by the fact that supermarkets are unintentionally making it impossible for small farms to supply them,’ he says.

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One thought on “Organic food in the UK

  1. It’s going to take a while before the damage industrialized agriculture has done to farming begins to ease. Hopefully, more people will get into traditional farming. I do get amused though, about the claimed “quality control” problems these supermarkets are complaining about. Supermarket produce is the most perfectly looking produce there is. But it sure never tastes as well as it looks. It’s going to take time to reeducate the public and grocers what REAL produce is actually like. So many people are divorced from the land, that they can’t judge the quality of produce very well. Many traditional tomatoes can grow slightly misshapen, discolored or vary in size, even on the same plants. But, oh, the taste! Industrialized agriculture produces perfect looking tomatoes that taste like cow-chips.

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