Four ways to resist a US takeover of our food system
We usually avoid commenting on politics but, like most of you, we here at Crop Drop have been watching with horror as the Trump presidency unfolds. I feel moved to speak up now because our food system is at stake more than ever before. Leaving the EU will make us even more dependent on trade with the US. And this week Bob Young, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, made it clear that any US trade deal struck by Theresa May would be contingent on the UK accepting imports of US foods that it has previously rejected due to unsafe chemical inputs and manipulation like chlorine-washed chicken, growth hormones in beef and unlabelled GMOs. Read Joanna Blythman's full article to get the full picture.
Meanwhile Brexit is being manipulated by corporations and agribusiness to further deregulate farming, relaxing the restrictions put in place to protect the environment and public health. The state of British farming is already pretty dire. We're depleting soils at an alarming rate – some experts predict we only have 60 harvests left at the rate we're destroying it. Wildlife is on a rapid decline across the countryside and falling farm gate prices are forcing farmers to close down or intensify, which means large-scale monocrops, chemical-reliant, environmentally destructive food production. So relaxing restrictions on US food imports could open the door to a whole host of chemicals in our foods currently banned by the EU, dangerous factory farming practices and GMOs which will force UK farmers into a race to the bottom in order to compete.
The environmental and health implications will be far-reaching and some things, once lost, we will never get back. Now more than ever our small scale, organic farmers need our support.
Four things you can do:
1. Buy local and organic – veg box schemes, farmers markets and other direct from farmers schemes offer a life line for small farms and enable them to be paid what they deserve for the produce they're selling. Many offer affordable meat-box schemes. Find your local milk man. Visit Big Barn to find your local suppliers.
2. Set up or join a food buying club for your staples and other dry, canned & jarred goods. We need to give less of our money to supermarkets! Food buying groups are a great way to buy in bulk from co-operative whoilesalers, which makes it cheaper to get organic, fair trade foods. You can buy from wholesalers like Suma, Infinity Foods or Essential. It requires a bit of co-ordination with friends/neighbours but well worth it. See Sustain's guide for more info. Jo, who works at Crop Drop, runs a food buying group in Tottenham. But wouldn't it be great to have other Crop Droppers start up their own in their neighbourhoods? If you think this is of interest we could help connect you with Crop Droppers in your area. Just get in touch and we can help you get started.
3. Get involved in food democracy – campaigns and protests against TTIP make a difference. It's already been dropped by several European countries due to resistance from the public. Write to your MP, join some campaigns and get involved in democracy.
4. Get vocal with your friends, family & colleagues. The time for worrying about coming across as a lentil-loving lefty is over. There's too much at stake and the changes will affect everyone regardless of class or culture. Each one of us can have a big impact on others by just letting people know what's going on and how it will affect them.