Soaring UK Butter Prices
1. “Soaring UK butter prices have sparked calls for the EC to release the massive butter reserves it has built up through intervention buying” ran the message last year in the Grocer (03/10/09). Wholesale butter prices had rocketed 30% - or £610 a tonne – between August and September.
2. “Many buyers had not forward-bought their butter ahead of the summer break, which led to panic buying and pushed up prices,” stated commentators. They call on the EC to ease the situation by allowing more butter into the market before cost rises were passed onto consumers. “Now is the time to start getting it out said Tony Evans, a partner at Andersons an agricultural consultancy. He added that a dip in milk production had resulted in a window of opportunity. “I don’t see why they don’t release it; I suspect they will but they won’t tell many people about it. This is the traditional time when we start getting tight on milk supply anyway”, he said.
3. An EC spokesman explained that a release would take place only when European and world markets could absorb the butter without any disturbance. “We’ll start to release when we feel the time is right so as to avoid any negative effect on the market”, he said.
4. The lessons still have been learnt by buyers, “producers” (excluding the poor overworked cow and her deprived calf) that human exploitation represented by the beef/dairy/veal industry is a heavily managed subsidized and unnatural process; humans should wean themselves off cow and ewe, unless for highly specialized medical purposes, most of which could be satisfied by human wet-nurses, performing functions comparable with the offerings of donors of blood, semen and other organs and components. What an odd lot of milksops we humans are when we give Mother Cow the honour of suckling us for a whole lifetime and fail even to give ourselves and our offspring their full portion of their own mother’s milk or the nearest, natural alternative to Real Food really fit for purpose. Cows’ milk can be used to rescue orphan lambs from occasional emergencies, it is true, but urgent replacements must be sought.
5. Keeping and processing (which include dewatering, rehydrating and expensive refrigeration) are costly and call for subsidisation beyond the exigencies of Recession. Expert doubts “have been raised over whether the EC would risk releasing the butter mountain in light of pressure it is currently facing from dairy-farmers across Europe to relieve low milk prices.” Mike Bessy, a much-quoted dairy-analyst, says: “I suspect they’ll be prepared to sit on it for 2 or 3 years. It certainly won’t be released this side of the new year.”
6. Some 4,615 tonnes of UK butter were sold into intervention between March and May last year. The UK produced 14% more butter, or 9,000 more tonnes, in the first 7 months of 2009 compared with the equivalent period in 2008. In the last 3 months of 2009 we at VEGA scanned 240 recipes presented for readers of the broadsheets for menus suitable for various culinary purposes. We also redoubled our testimony of 4 or 5 years’ persistence to interpret the environmentalists’ and nutritionists’ forebodings over the effects of Recession, food and fuel (and water) shortages, agricultural and agronomic follies and threats of strife among human populations. These stern warnings, expressed by us in our message from the seventies and before and magisterially reinforced by other commentators, voicing the up corn downhorn language of traditional farmers and our version Grow Food, not Feed (for which we provided feasible and nutritionally reliable Eating Plans in a Portfolio to give effect to the admonitions), received scanty support, although the evidence and testimony strengthened, especially when the economics of biofuels and other means of generated power are included in the consideration.
7. Observance and example by food experts, writers and critics of the Stern messages and development, by self-discipline, of a respectful but still joyous appreciation of food have been sluggish. The Ministry of Food in WW2 was an ardent advocate of slow foods. Starchy items needed 35 chews of masticatory exercise to the point when enzymes in the mouth hydrolysed the polysaccharides into sweet-tasting low-molecular weight compounds. Babies or the dog were great practitioners to demonstration the digestive benefits of insalivation. The benefits of slow foods and glycemic index came in after WW2 with fibre-righting and the need to observe self-control over quickie fast foods, snacking and “grazing.”
8. However, most of the food industry have been obsessed with specious applications of confections loaded with fats and sugar, as well as cuts of meat and lashings of dairy-products; as most of the professors of high cuisine (who might be known collectively as the band of Heathrow Flowerdales, offering “rich” versions and developments – disregarding the “nannying” of the Food Standards Agency and prudent health professionals – have connived at the follies. Bringing those principles into the vocabulary of the Quality of Life and the simple pleasures of Good Food and Nutrition and the sustained joys of food and drink has led to a ruinous waste and the shame of over indulgence among the well-heeled greedy nations of consumers flaunting indulgence in the face of large populations beset by the threats of unstable climates and blatant disregard of the cautious precautionary principles of hygiene and health. Actual culpable flouting of HACCP and the officers of the “food police” sets the nation a lamentable example in the history of food law (and lore); it sets a dreadful example of trivializing the dire effects of poor hygiene and the corollaries of wasteful time-off-work and distress.
9. A recent conflict over subsidized school milks between the Minister of Health, whom he has newly appointed, turns an important matter into a blatant bit of politicking between puppets apparently manipulated by PR agents, with no reputable intervention by a nutritionist who would explain the disputed need in terms understood already and accepted by responsible parents. A weakened coalition of ministers, some of whom have dubious records of self-discipline in their attitudes to food and drink augurs an uncertainty in coping with the imminent challenges of a Recession and the warnings therewith, especially for parents reluctant, for various reasons and aversions, to put their babies and toddlers on the cow. The brusquely overridden Health Minister, who showed evidence in this matter of relevant competence and experience, was humiliated to a point where some officers of state would translate their opposition to a threat of resignation.
10. While the European – and especially the British – dairy-industries decline, the UK is following EU example to raise outputs of food, to which it will be providing subsidies to aid the dairy-industry – to stimulate it to bigger feats of futile production and pressure on resources of land, water and power production and marine environments for leisure, housing, airports and railways, as well as foods derived more from Corn rather than Horn.
11. Corporate catering in meals in schools, work canteens and company dining rooms have shown little inspiration from the Swan challenges. The easiest way of measured change to Swan is the adoption of reforms implicit in reductions of “meat and dairy” (fish being regarded as a meat and breakfast being regarded as an important – probably the most important – of the day’s outputs and intakes, e.g. in schools and universities. Cutting down in consumption could be catered for intelligently without fuss: why maintain “vegetarian” and “vegan” specials when, as our Portfolio of Eating Plans, which allow the careful consumer choices suitable for both vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and reform - and to make changes better informed than the content of the FSA’s website - would offer. They would relieve embarrassments on both sides of the counter and from the kitchen to the table. The Food Standards Agency, for instance, publishes few recipes or menus in which the “meat and dairy” are replaced from the range of suitable alternatives and menus, assessed in the rigorous manner of our Portfolio of Eating Plans: the possibilities with food yeast, such as mycoprotein (e.g. Quorn), can be exploited as an example of a generally available and practical means of prompting effective reductions of meat and dairy…….
12. ……And providing, as leaders of thrifty and self-determined prudent dietary reform practical demonstrations of change at all levels in the canteen or in publications. Just before last Christmas we at VEGA tested practice in various restaurant conditions and with ranges of consumers, old and young, fat and slender, male and female etc, in providing exemplary recipes suitable for general consumption. Of 240 recipes for these purposes only 5 showed any effort at cutting down on meat and dairy. The latter was the easier and more effectual change to make, mainly by replacements in the dairy sector, some with powerful support from results of lingering analyses of the BSE outbreak and other zoonotic diseases. The environmental and animal welfare charities and their followers have easy recourse to suggestions to follow, without complicating matters by continued connivance with the deservedly condemned dairy-industry and its products. The Stern message, like ours from the 1976 Green Plan for farming, food, health and the land, and the accompanying campaign for Real Bread (CAMREB) and access to R and D since then, fudge this consequence.
13. Long-term policies for R and D, some appraising periods of 40 years or more, pour out from eminent scientists exploiting climate change and growth of human populations (and the numbers of enslaved livestock) as a means of extorting grants – some only re-visited from the more glorious spell of endeavour after WW2 – from inept and credulous politicians obsessed, even with the current threats of obesity and premature degenerative diseases – for untried policies of forcing outputs from the land, when thrifty forms of husbandry could be adopted immediately and be reinforced by well thought out development on the broad view of resources of farming, food, health and the land.
14. That is why we advocate our policies, founded on the principles, enounced in our Green Plans of the recoveries and reforms of 60 years ago, to Grow Food, not Feed, in the full recognition of what such changes and innovations entail. Now it is time to reinforce such persuasions. Harvest Festivals and the associations offer the means of education and endeavour.