Gordon Ramsay has announced that restaurants in UK should be fined for not exclusively using local, in season produce in their menus. He's kicked up a bit of a media storm. UK farmers, unsurprisingly, are backing him whole heartedly. Of course they are. But where does that leave the Kenya export vegetable market?
If there was an ounce of sense in the argument that if we stop flying beans from Kenya now, global warming or climate change might be halted - I might understand what Gordon Ramsay was trying to do. I apologise to any readers who have already been exposed to my rantings on the subject - but this is maddening!
Farmers in Africa have a minimal carbon footprint. They recycle everything and own comparatively few possessions, leading simple lives (an example that people in the west would do well to follow). They don't own cars and vans, they don't have petrol guzzling machinery and they use the sun to grow their produce. They don't need artificially heated greenhouses either. The carbon footprint of a UK farmer who receives subsidies is vast compared to their African counterpart who is on the breadline - so tell me why is it so much greener to buy local?
Is 'buying local' in UK from farmers who distribute their produce uneconomically in mini vans, really preferable to buying African produce, packed efficiently onto an aeroplane (sometimes they fill the hold of tourist planes which would otherwise be wasted space). Please, somebody, lets do a carbon footprint comparison? In addition, don't forget the Kenyan farmers need a foreign market to sell to! We are supposed to be helping Africa remember?! Without a foreign market the developing countries will have no chance of attaining wealth.
It would be great if someone would do a bit of worthwhile research and finally settle this 'food miles' debate. The media loves to dedicate so many column inches to it, but they never make conclusions giving people like Gordon Ramsay the chance to wax lyrical on a subject that he evidently has not fully grasped!
BTW - quite funny that the media backlash was the instant discovery that GR's own restaurants are guilty of using non local, out of season produce. I wonder if he feels he has put his foot in his mouth rather? Lets hope so.