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Thursday, March 29, 2007

more on the price of fish

Well not strictly fish, although you could say the whelks and the scallops come into it but they aren't really fish. (We havent yet succeeded in locating local fish, which is probably one the biggest changes in our diet as we used to subsist on mackerel - cheap and healthy though probably endangered or something. But I digress.)

i said before that the price of food doesnt really impact on one;s budget but i did notice last time in Waitrose that we are paying more than double the price for milk from Prince Charle's estate than it costs for some equally beautifully packaged and unhomogenised milk with lots of cream on top that comes from just outside our range. The cheaper milk also comes in bigger cartons so it produces slightly less waste.

Even though this is a matter of 40 pence, I think it indicates how there can be quite dramatic differences in food prices for very similar items. I suppose people are paying the extra for the status symbol of having Duchy milk.

There we are back to status again.

I certainly don t think this diet is a blueprint for eco living. In fact its not a blueprint for much apart from a good way to confront and have to learn about how food gets from sun -earth-plant-animal-shop -home - plate. to me that is the most interesting thing.

Also please note: there is an apparently almost total separation between local and organic food. And in wholesome looking organic shops they often dont know where the food comes from and also, 'locally made' processed food is usually made with ingredients from wholesalers and the producers generally have really and truly no idea where it originates.

In waitrose the other day the guy at the meat counter said they have total traceability for the Aberdeen angus beef but not for the lamb. So even if you wanted to you couldnt find out which farm your lamb came from.

I think this concept of traceability is a most interesting one and is an area our society seems to value very little. This diet is basically forcing us to trace to the source everything we eat, and a lot of times (id say at least 50% maybe as much as 80%) we can't eat something not because its from too far away, but because there is no information on where it came from.

Contrast that with the near-obsessive amount of time and effort that goes into giving us information on the calories, nutritional values, and ingredients of food - and just as much that we spend on finding out these 'facts'.

I suppose I, and because this phenomenon is a current trend or craze, many others too, am seeking more of a sense of connection and even perhaps of identity, through tracing where the things we eat actually come from. Is that as important, or more important than what the chemical make-up of the food is? If you know where it comes from, well in a way, what does that really tell you? Its just a concept. yet I think that concepts, feelings and impressions of meaning are as important as 'real' facts. maybe that is a good thing or a bad thing, or neither, but I do think it is a much more important factor in people;s behaviour than objective recognition of the Facts. Anyway have you ever noticed how the Facts keep changing? It used to considered much better to feed babies on Formula milk from a factory than real milk from their mother. Now it is widely accepted that its usually healthier to feed a baby mother's milk. Who decides what these Facts are? And if they are so Factual, how come they keep going out of date?

I read in a glossy magazine recently that this back-to-the-earth trend was a collective response to 9-11. We all got nervous and started wanting to go to ground. maybe so. But my theory is that the various technological revolutions promised that life would become knowable and ordered, but of course it can't, and we are starting to realise it, and maybe we can evolve into something more organic and less obsessed with Knowing Facts and more into Experiencing Life.

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