Monday, August 02, 2004


Next door's apples look ripe for scrumping in a few weeks if the birds don't get to them first.

England was until recently a producer of fine apples in many varieties. Those are sadly gone as many orchards have been ploughed for housing or other cash crops; or worse still left to go wild. I don't know what happened first. Whether Britain started to import more apples from abroad because they were cheaper or that apple orchards disappeared because there was no money in them.

Whichever way it is a sad day that supermarkets in this country are reduced to selling primarily foreign apples, most of them tasteless.

Sainsbury's, the other week, was stocking Chilean braeburns for godsake. Braeburns are passable, but I suspect have become so prevalent because they have a tough skin meaning thereby easy to pick and transport without damage.

Recent shopping trips have revealed the nasty Empire from the USA, Chinese apples and an array of horrid French fruit.

The British apple season will be upon us in a month or so. But, barring a few weeks in September I doubt we'll see much in the way of English apples in Sainsbury's.

This segue's nicely to the outcome of the trade talks in Geneva. Headlines over the weekend and this morning herald that this is a good deal. The agreement will reign back agricultural subsidies by the richer nations, thereby helping the developing world compete on that infamous "level playing field".

Patricia Hewitt, trade and industry secretary, said: "This is a crucial step on the road to delivering a trade round that will benefit all of us, especially developing countries.

Oxfam don't think so.

"Negotiators may trumpet breakthroughs on export subsidies and cotton but there are no cast-iron commitments here and no clear timeline for reform. We need a far more ambitious and radical approach. If rich countries do not immediately put their promises into action, this declaration will become just one more stage in a long journey of disappointment and deception."

Other press reaction indexed here.

And, if you think buying trimmed beans from Kenya helps out poor subsistence farmers think again. Not only does it rob local farmers, but the carbon expended transporting the produce helps destroy our environment.

Moral: Buy British, in season.
Or, scrump next door's apples.

:: Posted by pete @ 22:10