12 August 2016 – Problems and dilemmas associated with Western demand for avocados and asparagus

Joanna Blythman brings attention to problems in Mexican communities associated with the growth in demand for avocados in an article in the UK Guardian. She points to deforestation, introduction of pesticides and fertilisers, and depleting water tables as some of the outcomes as local farmers (and drug cartels) are drawn to this new and lucrative business. Joanna Blythman goes on to suggest there is a need to balance exotic imports, such as avocados, against other more locally grown food commodities that provide similar nutritional benefits.  This reminds me of another publication, written by Ethel del Pozo-Vergens and Bill Vorley of IIED, that looks at other issues affecting choice between global or local food chains, including which are better at delivering food security and safety, decent employment, protecting the environment and contributing to economic growth.

You can read the IIED publication here




24 July 2016: ‘old’ supermarket food versus fresh market produce

Tom Rawstorne writes in the UK Daily Mail about the age of food sold in UK supermarkets – apples can be up to 12 months old, fish can be up to two years old, fresh salad and vegetables can be up to 3 weeks old. This all comes down to new and improved technologies that chill, store and treat fresh food to extend its life. The article  discusses  how much nutritional quality is retained through these technologies and treatments. Such revelations can only boost the case for shopping for fresh food on markets.

21 July 2016: Brexit and UK seasonal fruit

The UK Guardian has a good article on farmers’ concerns about the future of British strawberries and other seasonal fruit post-Brexit. This looks at how the industries will survive if  bans are introduced on EU migrant workers. The NFU (National Farmers’ Union) is seeking urgent talks with the Brexit minister, David Davis, to discuss special measures for migrant seasonal workers. You can read the full article here

If you don’t already know the website follow-the-things  ( ‘a database of work making ‘real’ hidden relations between producers & consumers of everyday things’ ) – it’s worth taking a look.

1 June 2016: produce on Sesimbra market, Portugal

Sesimbra’s covered market offers a great mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, local breads, groceries and lots of fish straight from the harbour. It’s right in the centre of town. The traders are friendly, the building is  clean and simple, and shopping is a pleasure.


29 May 2016: Mercado de la Brexta, San Sebastian

The outdoor stalls outside the Mercado de la Brexta in San Sebastian, Spain were doing lively trade on Saturday. The produce and flowers looked great in the sun!


23 May 2016: London borough installs solar panels over marketplace

The London borough of Hounslow has installed 6000 solar panels over the rooftop of Western International wholesale market – it is the biggest solar scheme by any local authority – and has the added advantage of storing energy in batteries on-site.

You can read more – and see a photograph – here

14 August 2015 – food waste – what’s happening?

Cutting food waste by a quarter would mean enough food for everyone, says the United Nations – this is the headline for an article by Kate Lyons in the Guardian, published  on 12 August. This points out how ‘each year 1.3bn tonnes of food, about a third of all that is produced, is wasted, including about 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat. Meanwhile, 795 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition.

And another new study on food waste by D. Vanham and colleagues was also published this week by the Joint Research Centre at the European Commission. One of the main findings of this study (based on data from 6 EU countries) was that the average EU consumer wastes 16% of food – averaged for all EU citizens, this translates into 47 million tonnes of avoidable food waste annually – much of which could be avoided.

Food waste is happening in countries where people can afford to throw food away.  There are some positive changes as a result of growing consumer awareness and the Guardian article points out that the amount of avoidable food waste produced by UK households decreased by 21% between 2007-12. This blog also covered how France is making it illegal for large supermarkets to throw away edible food as part of a series of measures to cut down on waste (see 23 May).  However, as Dr David Moon, head of food sustainability at Wrap UK says “for every 2 tonnes of food and drink consumed in the home, there’s another tonne of food going to waste at some point in the chain – whether that’s production, retail or manufacturing.

Food waste remains one of the greatest challenges we face to achieving food security for all.

You can read the Guardian article here

You can read the EC’s JRC report here