Blog 6 May 2015 – Crunch Time For Foodies

Crunch Time For Foodies

The Taster Magazine Daily Update: Crunch Time For Foodies

Crunch time is approaching, and we’re not talking about chowing down on a stick of celery. Rather than attempt a conclusion, The Taster offers this purely foodie overview of the five national parties’ plans for the future. In alphabetical order:

CONSERVATIVE
♦ Reduce childhood obesity.
All three major parties have set out varying plans for this: the Tories’ strategy is to promote clear food information; also aimed at alleviating the burden of obesity-related disease on the NHS
♦ Champion British farmers and food producers aiming to export. This to include creating a ‘Great British Food Unit’ to help trademark and promote British foods at home and abroad, and pushing for country-of-origin labelling in Europe. Part of a 25-year plan to work with farmers and producers to “grow more, buy more and sell more British food”
♦ Champion their new Groceries Code Adjudicator. This to help farmers receive a fair deal from supermarkets

GREEN
♦ Increase taxes on alcohol and unhealthy food to support the NHS
♦ Reduce the consumption of meat, dairy and other animal products. Promote alternative diets; and use subsidies & taxes to support pasture- and land-based farming
♦ Subsidise organic farming
♦ Ensure public monies are spent only on humane & sustainable meat, milk and eggs Ie review the Government Buying Standards
♦ Ban waste food being sent to landfill. Recycle it instead; ultimately the Greens are aiming for a zero-waste culture
♦ Ban antibiotics in meat agriculture
♦ Promote farm animal welfare Oppose factory farming, ban hen and rabbit cages, ensure dairy cows have access to pasture. Improve welfare on fish farms. Like UKIP (strange bedfellows you find sometimes!), end the export of live animals for slaughter, introduce CCTV in slaughterhouses to ensure best practice, and limit the transport of live animals at home
♦ Improve food labelling and traceability
♦ Protect pollinators. Protecting honeybees and others (not a minor concern, in The Taster’s opinion. Is there honey still for tea? IS THERE?)

LABOUR
♦ Reduce childhood obesity. 
Labour’s plan is to limit the amount of sugar, salt and fat in foods marketed to children

♦ Cut food bank use. Over five years (from 2009 to 2014, according to the Trussell Trust) the number of people using food banks increased from 41K to 913K.
♦ End the ‘chaos’ of the current approach to food policy. Tie more government departments together and increase DEFRA’s presence.
♦ Aim to increase food security. Insist that issues such as GM and pesticide use must be viewed dispassionately and according to evidence-based science. (This might involve, for example, opposing claims that GM foods are indigestible, but accepting evidence that they impact upon the environment. *The Farmers’ Union recently claimed the UK is in a downward spiral of non-self-sufficiency, unable to meet 40% of its own food needs.)
♦ Take action on high-strength, low-cost alcohol

LIB DEM
♦ Reduce childhood obesity. Ban junk food advertising on TV after the 9pm watershed. According to  Marketing Weekly, this is the policy that alarmed food marketers the most, out of the three main parties’
♦ Introduce a National Food Strategy. To promote healthy, sustainable and affordable food across the nation
♦ Extend free school lunches to all primary school children
♦ Introduce minimum prices for alcoholic drinks according to how many units they contain

UKIP
♦ Increase food bank services. Provide 800 staff to help and advise food bank users on additional problems such as debt, addiction, family breakdown or health problems
♦ Give a free vote in Parliament on GM foods
♦ Push for clearer food labelling. To include information on country-of-origin, slaughter methods and further information on food labels
♦ Improve farm animal welfare before slaughter. Ban the export and at-home transport of live animals for slaughter, ban non-stun methods of slaughter and introduce CCTV in slaughterhouses to ensure best practice
♦ Support farms. Introduce a Single Farm Payment (presumably to support farmers in the event of withdrawal from the EU) and, in the wake of recent scandals about supermarket squeezes on small dairy suppliers, enable the Competition Commission to ensure dairy farmers get a fair price for milk
♦ Support fisheries and protect fish stocks. Introduce a 12-mile limit for UK fishermen only and a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone under UK control; reverse EU drift-net bans in British waters; require foreign trawlers to apply for fishing permits in British waters only when fish stocks have returned to sustainable levels. Also, ban pair trawling (a controversial form of fishing that kills dolphins as well as fish)
♦ Remove trade barriers to provide sustainable livelihoods for the world’s poorest people — The Taster isn’t quite sure how this would affect Fairtrade and similar schemes, but would presumably benefit many small producers (and UK buyers) of chocolate, bananas, sugar, coffee, tea etc

That’s it for today. Just heard a great quote on the radio: “Are we all secretly hoping the polls have got it all wrong? Because they all look too certain?”

The Taster doesn’t know. He just says: Good luck, everyone.

Yours exhaustedly,

The Taster

Click on COOK for seasonal cooking ideas, or on our CALENDAR for foodie events in May.

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