“Real Food” for Free!

23rd June 2001
news
release

Taste the Difference and Put Your Foot Down for Real Food and Farming
Today, Saturday 23 June, Manchester Friends of the Earth gave away free organic food in the city centre [1]. The local environmentalists were encouraging city shoppers to try “real food” and taste the difference. The stunt was part of the group’s promotion of a new charter for ‘Real Food and Farming’.

Apart from giving away food, the group gathered signatures on giant footprints, which they will now send to Prime Minister Tony Blair urging him to stick to his promise to review the way our food is produced.

There is wide public support for food that is free of pesticides and non-GM. Last Saturday (16 June), Manchester Friends of the Earth collected almost 100 signatures in Stockport and Manchester. The group are confident they will greatly improve on this figure this Saturday (23rd). With the foot and mouth crisis hot on the hooves off the BSE scandal, and the continuing squeezing of farm gate prices by big supermarkets, UK farmers are leaving the industry in large numbers [2].

Meanwhile consumers are losing confidence in our food as it continues to be contaminated with toxic residues such as pesticides, and with genetically modified (GM) ingredients that have not been properly tested. Solutions are needed urgently that give our farmers a future and that make sure consumers can have confidence in the safety and quality of the food they are eating.

In March, Tony Blair said that he would initiate a review of intensive farming practices [3]. Now Friends of the Earth (FoE) wants to make sure he does not forget his promise. FoE’s “Real Food and Farming Charter” sets out they key issues which need to be addressed in a fundamental reform of our food and farming.

The Real Food and Farming Charter calls on the Prime Minister to:

  • Stop GM crops being planted in the UK until their safety and need are proven
  • End pesticide residues in our food
  • Ensure a third of farmland becomes organic by 2010
  • Support local producers and markets
  • Give a fair deal for those farmers who safeguard our future
  • Save our agriculture from unfair global trade rules

Graeme Sherriff, Real Food campaigner at Manchester Friends of the Earth, commented:
“It is time for a fundamental rethink about food and farming in Britain. Tony Blair must be made to stick to his promise of a long-term plan for sustainable farming. Each and every one of us needs to put our foot down for real food and safe, sustainable farming for the sake of our countryside, our farmers and our health. We’re sure those shoppers that stopped in St Ann’s Square today could taste the difference!”

Organic food being handed out for free on the day came from various local suppliers: “Unicorn Grocery”, “Limited Resources” and “On the 8th Day” (see [1]).

ENDS

For More Information
Michael Bane, Campaigns Coordinator, Manchester FoE:
0161 275 6134 (w) / 07 947 606 950 (m)

Notes to Photo Editors
Manchester Friends of the Earth, along with organic fruit and giant “footstep” petitions and a host of banners, will be available for photographs/interviews from 10:45am until 11am on Saturday 23 June in St Ann’s Square. Other times by arrangement. Contact number for the day: 07 947 606 950.

Notes to Editors

1.  Organic fruit was donated by Unicorn Grocery, Chorlton (0161 861 0010) and the organic homedelivery service Limited Resources (0161 226 4777). On The Eighth Day, Oxford Road (0161 273 4878) provided organic flapjacks. (See immediately above for photo opportunities.)

2.   23,000 farmers and farm workers lost their livelihoods in 2000. MAFF expects another 40,000 farms to disappear by 2005. In 1939 there were 500,000 farms in the UK employing nearly 15% of the population. In 2000 just over one third of these remain and only 2% of the population now work in agriculture.

3.  On 1 March 2001, Tony Blair went on record saying “I think we need to sit down with the industry and really work out what is the basis on which we want sustainable farming for the long-term and in a sense, what price are we all prepared to pay for that as well. The types of issues we have got to look at are to do with the type of agricultural production we want to encourage, are to do with issues about intensive farming or not, are to do with issues of diversification, and how we are going to market our own produce as well. We need to decide these questions and put them within a proper long-term framework”