The UK has a resilient and diverse food supply chain, but I am sure some people in Eastbourne & Willingdon have seen some supermarkets limiting the number of fruit and vegetables, like tomatoes, broccoli and cucumbers, that shoppers can buy.
The genesis of this shortage is bad weather in Spain and north Africa, and it has caused a temporary shortage, but things will reset. This disruption is a tiny fraction of what retailers had to deal with during the pandemic and we never ran out of food even though there was panic buying in the early stages.
We also grow a great deal of our own, although there is an opportunity to grow more. That’s why I made the case in my planning submission that this week there should be far greater protection of agricultural land like Mornings Mill Farm.
Figures I was given from Defra this week highlight that we produce 61% of all the food we need, and 74% of food which we can grow or rear in the UK for all or part of the year. These figures have been stable for about 20 years.
The trend for decades now has been for consumers to want their favourite fruit and veg all year round but that needs to be shipped or flown in, often from far away. This present blip certainly highlights that seasonal produce grown here is more environmentally friendly and often cheaper too.
The Eastbourne Food Partnership is doing great work on our local food scene. They aim to act as a link between food support (foodbank, community fridge), food growers (Allotments, Schools), food producers, retailers and local authorities. Community composting schemes are also on their radar.
There are important developments to come in this area through our Environment Act too.
And we have some superb local businesses like Made in Sussex who produce the most fabulous jams and chutneys from produce grown in Old Town. Growing and buying local never tasted so good!
Food was very much in the frame this week with the British Kebab Awards in London and our very own nominees, popular eatery, Dem Shish was in contention! They won! Their success is richly deserved and puts Eastbourne on the map once again.