Letter: Food thoughts

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I do not think we can let Terence Blacker get away with the old "food is just fuel" argument. TV chefs may be a bizarre symptom of our concerns about what we eat but given that most of us do not cook for ourselves as well as we might like it is not a wholly bogus use of public service broadcasting.

These concerns are neither "weird" nor irrelevant. Scotland has one of the worst diets in Europe. And if the figures were arranged differently we would probably see that quite a few English cities are just as bad. Our imports of food are so much greater than our exports that hardly any politician even dares to mention the subject.

As we have seen with BSE, salmonella and lysteria there are no real protections for consumers against poisoning from mass-produced foods that have been championed by supermarkets.

The latest food story is that sheep farmers are facing bankruptcy. The week before it was pig farmers. As the senior buyer for a supermarket chain told me last week: no one is going to do anything to stop them going bust. If he isn't, no one else can.

While all the nutritional evidence piles up that we should be eating more fish and more vegetables, we have had to sit back and watch while fishmongers and greengrocers have almost disappeared from the high street, and market gardens and fishing fleets have been decommissioned.

We have every right to be concerned about what we eat at the end of the century and what we are going to eat in the next century.

DREW SMITH

Foxley, Wiltshire

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