Grow your own! Chef Raymond Blanc says Britain needs to reconnect with the land

 

Raymond Blanc, one of the UK's best-loved chefs, says Britain has lost both its connection with the land and any feeling for how food is grown. And the Frenchman is urging us to return to traditional methods of producing food.

Blanc, a self-taught, Michelin-starred chef is launching the Royal Horticultural Society's "Edible Britain" campaign tomorrow, in which the RHS calls on the nation to provide communities with fresh, seasonal produce.

"People have lost completely their connection with the earth, their sense of place, how food is grown, the variety and seasonality," said Blanc, 63, yesterday. "It's about reconnecting with your land – you help the farmer keep his job and keep our little villages alive. So, as consumers, we can really help to revive, and connect with, the craft of growing food. I think British people have made the mistake of becoming a big factory for many, many years," he said.

Blanc, whose Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, in Oxfordshire, has retained two Michelin stars for almost three decades, said that despite the organic movement in recent years, more was needed to reconnect people with the land and help them understand where our food comes from – especially in light of last month's horsemeat scandal.

Despite such incidents, he believes attitudes have been changing over recent years.

"British people now want knowledge, and the consumer is much more ethical. We had no clue where our food came from – of course, which is why we ended up with horse in our burgers for the past 40 years, and no traceability, and full of chemicals.

"We are looking at food in a different way, which is very exciting. We want to know how and where it comes from, how and where it's grown. Soon we are going to reconnect with our local agriculture."

As he launches the campaign – part of the RHS's Britain in Bloom movement – Blanc will teach children from an inner-city London estate the benefits of growing their own vegetables by helping them plant raised beds. There are some 3,300 "bloom groups" in the UK – volunteers who look after nearly 80 square miles of British outdoor space, many of which grow food.

Blanc said it was the decades after the Second World War and the adoption of food-growing techniques from the US which created the most damage to the way we viewed our food production habits.

"The government after the Second World War took a decision to say the nation would never lack food. We will be self-sufficient. We looked across to America and saw the wonderful 'miracle' which America was producing, that with one acre of land, you could produce about four times more. We embraced that system and all the chemicals and the whole tool box of chemistry – and now we understand there's a cost to it. We lost a great deal."

As a boy, Blanc said he worked in his family kitchen garden, under the tutelage of his father. "My father had a big garden. I was a humble worker from the age of six. But I used to hate it because while my friends were playing football, I was in the garden."

First training as a waiter, he worked at a renowned restaurant in his home city of Besançon in France – but was later fired for daring to offer the head chef culinary advice. After moving to England in the early 1970s, Blanc first opened a restaurant in north Oxford by mortgaging his house and calling on help from friends. In 1983, he purchased a manor house in the Oxfordshire village of Great Milton and opened it as a country house hotel, known as Le Manior aux Quat' Saisons. He has also, in recent years, opened a chain of brasseries.

Raymond Blanc cookbooks – plus free seeds

The Independent on Sunday is giving away a pair of signed Raymond Blanc cookery books to five lucky readers. In order to win Raymond Blanc: A Taste of my Life and Kitchen Secrets, simply email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk by noon, Friday 19 April, 2013. Include your name, postal address, and a daytime telephone number. Please put "Edible Britain Competition" in the subject header of your email.

Alternatively, you can post your details to: "Edible Britain Competition", Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5HF. The first five names drawn out of the hat will receive two signed copies and the next 10 names will receive a bumper pack of seeds – courtesy of the Royal Horticultural Society – each containing 15 packets, enough to grow an entire vegetable garden. Good luck!

For more information on Raymond Blanc visit: www.manoir.com

Usual promotion rules apply, see www.independent.co.uk/rules. For further information, please write to Customer Care, Room 203b, Independent Print Limited, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT [or call the SMS helpline on 0800 014 1178].

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?