The Policy Commission report on the Future of Food and Farming Report, published last week, seems to have found favour in the most critical quarters. The Soil Association approves: "We agree with the majority of the recommendations in this report which could set British agriculture on a new and sustainable course," said Patrick Holden, its director. As long as the recommendations to develop outlets for local food are embraced, he adds. As well as encouraging more organic farming, the report suggests supermarkets be given incentives to stock local produce, to help struggling farmers. The farmers' markets where producers sell their food locally also appreciate the recognition of regional food in the UK. "Supermarkets, too, need to rethink their buying policies – consider taste rather than profit, and look under their noses rather than in world atlases for their stock," says the organiser of London Farmers' Markets. Couldn't have put it better myself.
Food for kids is often rubbish, a survey of foods targeted at children has discovered. Shocking, yes. Surprising, no, at least not to any parent. But Organix, which makes organic baby and children's food, can confirm what many suspected. Three-quarters of the 400-odd kids' foods it looked at contained flavourings such as monosodium glutamate, which is banned in baby foods. A quarter contained preservatives and many were full of sugar, salt and fat. Organix would like to see children's foods without dyes, colourings, certain preservatives and artificial flavourings, wants clearer labelling, and calls for the UK food industry to adopt a code of practice for children's food. Organix also commissioned a survey of parents, and found the majority aren't confident that food manufacturers produce healthy products for children. Almost all worry about what they feed their children; most don't feel that theirs eat a variety of foods. Least shocking finding: 60 per cent of under-fives eat crisps at least once a week. More surprising that 40 per cent of them don't.
Calling all potato heads and tuber enthusiasts. The ninth National Potato Day is tomorrow. It takes place at the Henry Doubleday Research Association at Ryton Organic Gardens, Coventry (0247 630 3517) from 10am-5pm. For those who want to know what they're missing when most shops sell only three or four types, there will be 100 varieties of seed potato on sale for 12p each, and dozens to buy in the shop. Sponsor of Potato Day, Waitrose, has around a dozen varieties – more than any other supermarket – and claims to be the only one to sell Shetland Black, and to be due to introduce Fortyfold.
Steak and chips? Last week we should have included the telephone numbers for Graig Farm Organics (01597 851655, www.graigfarm.col.uk) and the Welsh Hook Meat Centre (01437 768 876, www.welsh-organic-meat.co.uk) for those who want to buy their spectacular beef direct.
At this time of year honey usually accompanies hot water and lemon. From Monday, National Honey Week, organised by the Honey Association, which represents honey packers in the UK (mostly selling imported honey) is a reminder that it's more than a soother. Supermarkets will be flowing with honey, and there will be beekeeping demonstrations in some. But for the richest variety of British honeys, go elsewhere. James Hamill of The Hive in 93 Northcote Road, London, SW11, the country's only specialist honey and beekeeping shop (020-7924 6233) sells by mail order the equivalent of single-estate honeys, from just one type of flower. A third-generation beekeeper, he believes Britain has the best nectars and honeys in the world. Last summer was a good one for bees: with much of the countryside out of bounds, wild flowers flourished. Trouble was, the beekeepers couldn't always get to them to collect it. As a week of honeyed incentives shows us, it's a precious commodity.Reuse content