Let it be known that there is no doubt about it, the real heroes through this current climate are those front-line NHS workers. Knowing the risks involved and having to turn up every day to face those risks is truly remarkable. They deserve all our support and more.
I was also heartened when we, as farmers and food producers, were classed as ‘key workers’ by the government when this all unravelled. It was only a few weeks ago when the death knell was sounded for British farmers. Their practices for producing food were dated and damaging to the environment and we’re better off without them. Trying to distinguish the British ways of farming to that of the factories and feedlots around the world was hard work and often fell on deaf ears.
This crisis has shown us a lot of things, many of which are much more important than this, but I am a farmer, from five generations of farmers before me, and I also produce food for my community, so it’s what I feel I can talk about best. When the luxury of choice was taken away from us, and we couldn’t buy whatever we fancied under the sun in our local supermarket, we all surged for the basics again. The eggs, the vegetables, the meat (and the toilet roll).
It gave me such great pleasure that when we ran out of eggs, we called Anthony (who had just had a baby with his partner Susy the night before!) who was busily traying up that morning’s lay before heading straight to us. Likewise, a call from my uncle, Geoff, to see if we needed some more milk, straight from the creamery on his farm. A chat to Kate, our market gardener, on my walk home to increase our order for her salad leaves tomorrow that she was picking in the field next to the shop. And finally, when Kevin our head butcher said beef sales were surging, Dad, Mum and I loaded up an extra Hereford heifer from our farm that next morning and took her just down the road to slaughter at our local abattoir to increase our supply for the next week or two. It was that simple for us.
My hope is that families are together in their homes, learning to cook new food from the limited and unusual choice of whole foods and ingredients. They are gathering around together to take time to eat and talk because time is something we seem to have found again. Food and community have gone hand in hand for many thousands of years before us, let us hope this isn’t all lost again when the world returns to normal.