Posted: 03/12/2019

“It’s no accident that my ‘environment’ folder in Outlook is busier than ever.”

View from HQ

It’s raining again. October and November have been foul. Which is why I’m sat here on a Sunday morning, flicking through the pages of our mainstream retail cousin The Grocer, rather than dead-heading flowers, blowing dead leaves from one place to another or doing any other autumnal green-fingered job. 

The opening news spread has four big stories, three of which are turtles-wear-plastic related. Protecting our planet, and therefore our terroir, is being debated on every media channel possible.  

That gives us here at the Guild a dilemma. Probably several. Those of you that have read the Great Taste T&Cs from point 1 to 75 (that’s real) will know our august food accreditation scheme has always avoided food politics. As the name suggests, it’s about the taste. But for how long? 

Many of us must be wrestling with how far our personal beliefs should infiltrate our business or corporate MO. And being in the food trade, there’s an additional dimension: feeding the world’s population is the only chit-chat at the Sustainability Supper. 

It’s no accident that my ‘environment’ folder in Outlook is busier than ever. Contaminated ditches at a Great Taste award-winning farm. Palm oil in a Great Taste peanut butter. Chicken in a ready-meal from Thailand. Contaminated milk from a celebrated farm shop. 

My gentle response to the admirable folk who ping me these missives, querying whether such producers deserve awards, is that we must let our experts be guided by taste and taste alone.

But we might be ready to enter the debate. Is it time, for example, to insist all Great Taste winners should be known by the FSA and their local food authorities? Or would the essential micro-producer then be squeezed out? Please send more emails with your thoughts. 

But surely nature-friendly palm oil is a minimum? Protecting the lungs of the planet may well stop the rain and have me reaching for my leaf blower.

This story originally appeared in December issue of Fine Food Digest, you can find the digital edition here.

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