Happy New Year and Sanity Sapping Red Tape

Riverford Farm Shop, Yealmpton

Happy New Year and all that. Despite all the gloom, for us 2016 wasn’t that bad so more of the same please and fingers crossed that post-truth populism (whatever that is) doesn’t take a negative hold. We’ll know more after Trump Day on January 20th. He really should have been disqualified for multiple false starts and, somehow, I don’t think he’s going to rest on his laurels.

Before going off onto a bit of a rant (yes, I have one that I really need to get off my chest) I’d like to thank everyone for what was both the busiest and smoothest Christmas on record. Five years ago, if anyone had predicted such a good one I would probably have died not laughing, or had a stroke, so thank you again.

In the run-up to the 2015 election my brother, Guy, dug himself a deep hole by commenting on the fact that the contending parties seemed to think so little of the electorate by assuming that the only thing we were interested in was pecuniary gain. Guy’s mistake was to enter the whirlpool that is politics but he was spot on in his observation that they do seem to think we’re all pretty stupid. I’m not going to bang on about politics and will stick to my specialist subject but my life has just been made incalculably more complicated by the new requirements for nutritional labelling on all packaged, processed foods. It takes the spontaneity out of running a small food business and makes it difficult to react to seasonal surpluses. Why do we need it? Does anyone really take any notice? We’re not idiots and with all the interest in food it’s actually quite empowering to make one’s own decisions. Yes, you could argue that nutritional labelling enables us to do that but in practise it doesn’t. It’s just false security through box ticking. The last thing I want to do is to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes or make people eat something they don’t want to eat but we don’t make anything, or use any ingredients, you wouldn’t at home. Ingredients are already listed in quantitative order and, quite rightly, allergens have to be highlighted but isn’t that enough? Food is about pleasure as well as sustenance. I can’t believe I’m alone in eating as little processed food as possible and hardly ever having read and never taken any notice of any nutritional labelling info. To me it feels like yet another step down the road towards food becoming a dosage. We’ll turn up at something akin to a fuel station and dose ourselves with a concoction, pre formulated by the powers that be to whatever formula is considered to be best, at the time. ‘At the time’ is important because, as we’ve repeatedly seen, they do get it wrong and current best practise frequently changes.

For us, it’s doable but it just adds another layer of sanity sapping red tape. As I said, it takes the fun out of running a business and plays into the hands of the big players with their laboratories, uniformity guaranteeing production lines and marketing and branding departments.