Subject: A heavy price to pay for gobbling up cheap food (Times 15 Jan.)

 
I have been extremely concerned by the role of the supermarkets in the quest for cheap food and how in many ways they have been catastrophic for British farming.
 
For me things came to a head in the Foot and Mouth epidemic, when I first gained some insight into how supermarkets operated e.g. how farmers had been squeezed and how animal welfare was being compromised because of intensive livestock production and because of the excessive journey times to abbattoirs.
 
 It has over the years been increasingly difficult to source British meat and fruit and vegetables, particularly locaI/regional products. Why should I be forced to buy Spanish onions when there are some, much fresher and tastier, in the fields nearby?  The supermarkets' attempts to provide and market British organic meat, outdoor reared meat, and other meat which has been reared to high welfare  standards have been pathetic. After the fiasco of meat incorrectly labelled as British, I no longer trust them.
 
I have become increasingly concerned about the pesticides/fungicides used in the production of those rows upon rows of shiny uniform bright red apples, and those lettuces that don't harbour a single greenfly.
 
I noticed how this character "the housewife" has been put forward as the driving force behind the relentless and ruthless strategies to cut costs.  The final straw came for me in the FMD outbreak when Kevin Hawkins of Safeway, in a television interview in 2001, failed to give clear assurances on the safety of eating vaccinated (we eat this all the time) - he indicated that consumers may not like it, and supermarkets had to respond to their customers. I feel that he thereby served to sow the seeds of doubt.
 
The power wielded by the supermarkets and their greed have caused me to completely change my shopping habits. I no longer buy my meat and vegetables from my local Safeway (unless dire emergency).  I go to a local farm shop for fruit and vegs, to a butcher who sources meat locally, and I buy a considerable amount of meat mail order, from organic farms that stood out against the disastrous contiguous cull of healthy animals in the FMD disaster.
 
Will Mr Hawkins, or his successor, take note of my protest?  I am not optimistic.