Do Vegetables qualify for Frequent Flyer status?

You know those tiny little vegetables you get in shrink-wrapped, styrofoam packs? The ones air-freighted in from Kenya and other places? Well, they may be a bit scarce in days to come. And thank God for that. Maybe it will make people wake up and smell the carbon. Half the vegetables and 95 per cent of the fruit eaten in the UK comes from overseas.

Here are a few facts according to DEFRA:

  • Air-freighted food imports account for only around 1.25% of total food imports
    in terms of volume, but they are responsible for some 10% of carbon dioxide
    emissions generated by UK food transport.
  • The UK imported around 0.78 million tonnes (mt) of fresh fruit and vegetables
    from African nations in 2005. These goods had a declared value of £495m.
    South Africa was the largest supplier, accounting for around 0.37 mt tonnes in
    2005. Six countries accounted for 95% of fruit and vegetable imports
  • Because growth in import volumes from African nations has exceeded growth
    in overall purchases of fruit and vegetables, Africa’s share of the market has
    risen. Africa’s share of fruit and vegetables imports has also grown, from
    11.5% in 1997 to around 14% in 2005.

And it is increasing. 14% of our fruit and vegetables are grown in Africa and transported here, mostly by boat, but some by plane. Unbelievably, we imported over 20,000 tonnes of cut flowers from Africa. Flowers for goodness sake!

DEFRA of course, in thrall to its political masters thinks all of this is wonderful and is to say the least apathetic about this enormous waste of resources.

So that is it then. It has taken a little smouldering pile of magma to bring us to a standstill and create shortages. In this case, shortages of stuff we do not need. I wonder, what would it take, what kind of global disaster was needed, in order for us to become dependent upon what we could grow ourselves? Well, we were doing it 70 years ago, and it was not easy. But it can be done. If you want to see how people manage it, I suggest you take a look at Ruth's site:  She may be mad, but she isn't stupid.


Ruth@VS said...

Thanks for the plug, WW! In the winter months when I have to buy vegetables, I always check where they've come from, haven't bought anything air freighted in years. And I don't buy flowers except when you occasionally see British grown flowers in the shops - daffodils in the spring and some flowers in the height of summer. Most people don't know that flowers are largely imported by air. And paying Africans to grow stuff for us when they should be feeding themselves seems crazy to me.

subrosa said...

I'm completely with Ruth on this. For the past 4 years I haven't bought anything which wasn't grown in UK. At first there were complaints about 'what? no mangtout?' but I soon put an end to them. He now grows his own. :)

The price of veg in the shops shot up today. Tesco etc are in on the price scam. Then you knew that didn't you.

wheat grass said...

I'll just plant some vegetables on my garden so that when I want to have some veggies on my table I can easily have some veggies.