Friday, 14 July 2017

EU's destruction of European food quality and cultivars

Young Alois, my Bavarian sparky, threw the last of his lunch away in disgust. "This apple tastes crap." Well, yes. They don't do South African or New Zealand apples here, so it was last year's, and since Austrian agriculture has been 'modernised' would likely be one of just half a dozen long-season high-cropping cultivars now grown and sold from Aberdeen to Athens. Yes, the EU means you can walk into a supermarket anywhere in Europe and buy the same variety of tasteless, textureless apple of uniform size and condition, and up to three years old. 

The same goes for tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes and virtually all of the greengrocery shelves. Milk and dairy quality remains superb, but rather for freshness than taste. You need to visit the bi-weekly farmers' markets to buy real, quality fresh fruit and veg here - or drive forty minutes across the border to the nearest Italian market town. Austria has sleepwalked into the same corporatist hell of consistent mediocrity that has destroyed British horticulture. 

It's not just the EU - it's the power of advertising, fear of uncleanliness and the triumph of the global petrochemical corporates. There's also a Disneyfication of what the natural environment should look like. I am insistent that the environment starts with flies; flies that cluster around cow stalls, thrive on dung and hug the meadows. Fly catchers such as the black redstarts now raising their second brood of the year in my rafters can get through 1.2kg of flies in a season; my cheeky wall-lizards, majestic fire salamanders, graceful grass snakes and adventurous slow-worms and all the other reptiles and amphibians sharing my space here all depend on insects / invertebrates. Once you get rid of your domestic livestock - two cows in the stalls, a pig in its sty, chickens in the yard, maybe a goat or two - you also lose the richness of your reptile and amphibian life. But such things, like outside lavvies, are considered too 'peasant', not consistent with the sophistication of a two-tonne 4x4 with chrome bull bars and a set of brown plastic wicker garden chairs.  

As I write, from my study window I see in the meadow below a roe hind has brought her two fauns from the copse to graze. The meadows are alive with a procession of butterflies, each type appearing in turn as its particular flowers come into bloom, more types of butterfly than I ever saw in a lifetime in England, but here the meadows are unsprayed, chem-free and with a riot of wild flowers that it takes five grand and the Chelsea flower show to achieve in the home counties. 

So the news that Germany is demanding that French agriculture 'modernises' is really not good news for anyone in Europe who values food quality. The only problem with French agriculture is that the farmers think it's their right to be rich. It really isn't. But their refusal to take steps that could 'rationalise' French cheese to six standard types and allow bread factories to sell extended-life baguettes for 14 days after baking is wholly commendable.

Austria has lost her native universal food quality, victim to the EU and the corporates. Only Romania and Bulgaria still maintain sustainable, environmentally good agriculture with a richness of taste and variety, largesse of produce and quality of life - and the manufacturers of EU subsidised tractors and cheap-lease heavyweight 4x4s are already moving in, the horses already on their way to the knacker. 

The EU's hatred of sustainable agriculture will destroy our environment

7 comments:

Poisonedchalice said...

This is one of the reasons I like Aldi. No seriously! They sell carrots that aren't perfectly conical; unlike Waitrose that would see them ploughed back into the ground. And that's just one example. But of course, as you say, farmers markets are the right place to go explore and discover a world of taste and freshness - and I'll be there a week on Tuesday!

Closer to home, here in Cheshire, there is a farm that is always first out of the blocks with Cheshire new potatoes in May. They have a south facing field, carefully tended, that produces the best of the best and I challenge anyone to find better new potatoes. Better still though, is the dirty old dilapidated stable that they sell them from. And then there is a very old greengrocers weigh scale; you know, the oval stainless steel pan with an opposing counterbalance plate and a range of ancient pound weights. And when you ask about when they were picked - "about an hour ago" comes the reply.

Long may they continue.

DeeDee99 said...

We're getting a bit better re wild flowers. Roadside verges and roundabouts in the South/South west are now often a display of wildflowers you'd never have seen even 5 years ago.

They're benefiting from cutbacks in the Highways Maintenance Departments of the councils.

Unknown said...

Buy my cox's off the cart.

Dadad said...

So, austerity does have some benefits.

Dave_G said...


The proliferation of food waste is testament to the tasteless, texture-less cr@p that we're faced with from the usual commercial sources.

However, only yesterday I harvested our first home-grown potatoes and they are streets ahead in flavour etc than even the best Jersey Royals I usually enjoy.

Our potatoes are just the beginning though - an experiment to justify our future assembly of a poly tunnel to propagate a decent selection of fruit and veg that we can certainly follow from seed-to-plate.....

My location and climate is such that a poly tunnel is a necessity or I'd be digging up the garden as we speak.

I'm not alone in such thoughts and actions either - not sure whether this bodes well for our local food supplies or is testament to peoples concern for availability in the long term.....

Thud said...

Chickens everywhere here and 32 varieties of apple growing but I do see what you mean as my next door farmer whilst a nice guy is busy obliterating everything not instantly productive. His new Polish workers are however reclaiming and restocking all the ponds on his land which is good.

Anonymous said...

Raedwald said:

'As I write, from my study window I see in the meadow below a roe hind has brought her two fauns from the copse to graze. The meadows are alive with a procession of butterflies, each type appearing in turn as its particular flowers come into bloom, more types of butterfly than I ever saw in a lifetime in England, but here the meadows are unsprayed, chem-free and with a riot of wild flowers that it takes five grand and the Chelsea flower show to achieve in the home counties.'

Ah, the observations of a man in tune with his environment. Marvelous. I can get that level of satisfaction, but I have to travel about 15 miles to see Adonis blues, the Heath fritillary and the Meadow Brown. If I'm really lucky I'll see a Merlin swooping over Gold Down near Warbarrow Bay.

Steve