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Ramsay’s latest rant. A hot topic or just hot air?
Chef Gordon Ramsay is never shy of courting controversy and he is back in the headlines again calling for restaurants to be fined if they sell out-of-season vegetables or fruit.
You could forgive the public for being confused when it comes to knowing where to eat, where to shop and what to buy.
Almost daily we are bombarded with conflicting information about whether food is healthy or not, or good or bad for the environment. For example, some groups say supermarkets should not give out free plastic bags (this week Marks and Spencer brought in a 5p charge), while other stores, such as Sainsbury’s say that is not the answer and will not bring lasting benefit to the environment.
Ramsay’s latest target is food flown in from abroad. “I don’t want to see asparagus in the middle of December,” he says. Most people over 30 can probably remember when a strawberry would never have been seen except during the British summer and the celebrity chef would like to see a return to the culture of eating home-grown produce.
What’s more, environmentalists argue that it is better for the planet, as according to the Department for Food and Rural Affairs, air freight emits more greenhouse gases per food mile than any other form of transport.
Ah, but what about the farmers in some of the poorest countries in the world who are producing the food for our supermarkets? That trade is vital to their wellbeing, with a million farmers and their families in Africa depending on it, according to the Department for International Development.
What’s more DFID says driving six and half miles to buy your shopping emits more carbon than flying a pack of Kenyan green beans to the UK. “Do we, in rich countries, help poor countries to trade their way out of poverty by buying their exports, or do we say no to air-freighting and buy local produce instead?,” DFID asks.
But then the champions of organic food, the Soil Association, argue that DFID has got it wrong and the government is being irresponsible.
So, is Ramsay just serving up a hot topic to help publicise his new TV show? Or is he right, and restaurants should be forced to use local produce?
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