Doing our bit to fight illegal imports and protect British food as Christmas comes closer.

I have to share with you the content of an article in the Farmer’s Weekly on the grim discovery of illegal meat in lorries at the port of Dover.

Twenty-two lorries originating from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Poland were found with illegal meat imports in 21 of the vehicles entering the UK.

Now you might think what is wrong with that? Well firstly, the raw meat was in carrier bags, holdalls and second-hand cardboard boxes, with no temperature control or labelling of contents. It was also being stored in the same area as ready to eat produce – destined to be sold at markets and independent stores in Britain. Dangerous doesn’t even cover it.

What I find so infuriating, is that if, we as British farmers or caterers, did anything like that we would be prosecuted and plastered all over the news! We have strict rules in our catering kitchens, butcheries and on farms here in England, so why are our border controls and customs not properly checking more of what is coming into our country?

Not only are we at risk of the deadly African Swine fever and a major national health issue but, our own pork producers have had a terrible time with soaring production costs & a severe lack of abattoirs. The UK pig industry has a huge problem with the lack of abattoirs, especially here in the South West. Labour costs are higher here than in Europe and our animal welfare standards are much higher so we can’t produce food as cheap as other countries either on our farms or in our restaurants, but we know what we are eating has good provenance. We are up against barriers at all turns and the government are doing nothing to help and letting dangerous food into our country all at the same time.

I certainly don’t want to eat or serve anything but English meat & once again this story highlights the need for us all to read the labels and look at the origin of our food. These are just some of the reasons that we set up Love Local Trust Local. We need to trust the food we eat & support the people providing it here in our own communities and counties, it’s so essential to protect the future of British food.

A nice piece of pork with a shiny marmalade glaze at Christmas is a great alternative to a traditional turkey. All the traditional trimmings go exceptionally well with pork and at an embarrassingly cheaper cost. Rising food and drink prices mean we will all need to plan for Christmas early. The recent fall in the value of the sterling has compounded the challenge of inflation as many global commodities such as cooking oil and coffee are trading in dollars and now cost UK buyers even more. Everything going up all the time is making planning for Christmas very challenging and difficult for catering businesses too. It’s simply about trying to survive.

If I hadn’t shared enough doom and gloom, please also remember that avian flu is still a major problem within the poultry industry meaning that the additional challenges to meet demand will mean higher prices. Meat too because of the 2022 disruption to the grain supplies caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the overall impact in costs. If you see popular meat cuts, buy them as early as possible.

Fortunately, on a good note, the Christmas puddings have been cooked & the cakes are ready for icing. We’ve been keeping busy and our spirits high. Let’s keep positive & eating local folks.