Greens Say It’s Time to Get Real About Food

11th June 2002
news
release

On Tuesday 11 June 2002, Manchester Friends of the Earth launched its Campaign For
Real Food to a packed audience at the Friends’ Meeting House in central Manchester, and met with tremendous support from local residents. The meting was the first step in what is proving to be a strong campaign to promote organic food as a positive alternative to the mass-produced food found on supermarket shelves, which is often bad for people’s health and degrades the environment.

The public meeting was chaired by the BBC GMR presenter Allan Beswick, and featured
presentations by the national Friends of the Earth Real Food Campaigner, Pete Riley, and from local suppliers of organic food (Unicorn Grocery and Limited Resources), amongst others. As an introduction, the public was treated to a selection of free hot and cold organic food, and presented with a free directory of local and organic food in the Manchester area.
Food and farming in the UK faces a stark choice, claims Manchester Friends of the Earth.
Either we continue to put profit first, accepting the associated health risks and  environmental damage, or we adopt practices that safeguard the future of what we eat, and those who provide it. According to the Government [1], half of all UK fruit and vegetables that we buy contain residues from pesticides. Pesticides can accumulate in our bodies and effect our hormone systems. The cost of removing pesticides from our drinking water is £120 million each year.

The group is also opposed to genetically modified food for which there is very little independent safety testing. Due to economies of scale, food is often transported for hundreds of miles before it arrives on our supermarket shelves – even if it originated from a farm local to the area.

Manchester Friends of the Earth is promoting organic food, which is grown without pesticides and thus safer to eat. It is calling for a third of all farmland to be organic by 2010. The group also wants to see people buying more locally produced food, which would lead to less lorries on our roads and less emissions of gases contributing to climate change.
Graeme Sherriff, a Real Food campaigner for Manchester Friends of the Earth, stated:

“The organic food that we call luxury, is basically how food should be: lower in chemical
residues and higher in nutritional value. Yet, due to half a century of farming and food policy that has put production ahead of food quality and environmental protection, we are being sold short. We are being sold food that is threatening our health and environment, and costing UK taxpayers billions of pounds every year. Real Food, the local and organic alternative to globalised markets, is long overdue.”

The event was a resounding success, and audience feedback was extremely positive.
Manchester resident Rhian Myhre commented: “Before attending this meeting, I knew very little about organic food and hadn’t properly appreciated the scale of the problem. Organic produce is generally considered an expensive alternative to supermarket food, not as accessible and not as tasty, and it’s clear that this is simply not the case. The range of food available this evening – using entirely organic ingredients – has gone a long way to combat my own prejudices. This is an important issue and it must be addressed, sooner rather than later. I wholeheartedly support Manchester Friends of the Earth and wish them great success with this campaign.”

[1] Data from Ministry of Agriculture, Farming and Fisheries (1999)

ENDS

For further information, contact: Graeme Sherriff, Campaigner, Manchester Friends of the Earth    07905 790426 (m)

Michael Bane, Campaigns Co-ordinator, Manchester Friends of the Earth:
0161 275 6134 (w) / 07 947 606 950 (m) / 0161 226 9321 (h)

Notes to Editors
Manchester Friends of the Earth is a prominent pressure group, lobbying for policy changes at a
local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and
its campaigns are funded entirely by membership fees, individual donations and charitable
grants. Manchester Friends of the Earth is part of a national network of local groups, affiliated
to the national organisation (further information can be found at www.foe.co.uk).
The Real Food evening took place on Tuesday 11 June 2002 at the Friends Meeting House,
Mount Street, central Manchester. Chaired by Allan Beswick (BBC GMR, North-West Tonight),
speakers included Pete Riley (national FoE Real Food Campaigner), Graeme Sherriff
(Manchester FoE), Rob Squires (permaculture) and Jonathan (GM Campaign). Attendees also
included representatives from Bolton FoE, Labour Behind the Label/WDM, the Manchester
Vegetarian Society, Hydrogen Energy Association of UK & Ireland, the Manchester
Environmental Resource Centre initiative (MERCi), Fairfield Composting and the Women’s
Environmental Network.

Displays about real food, Manchester Friends of the Earth, and stalls by resellers of organic
food provided the public with additional information. Misty’s Vegetarian Café provided the free organic hot food.
Photographs are available on request.