How often do vegans or vegetarians have to listen to the old adage about getting enough protein? Many a health worker just at the mere mention of your vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is enough to send their little caring heart into a bit of a palpitation. Furthermore, If you have ever been pregnant and vegan or vegetarian it is even worse and you are subjected to a tirade of advice above and beyond on what or how to eat whether you want the advice or not.
Part of that ‘advice’ ensures that you get enough iron, vitamins, minerals, protein and so on. Well of course! We´re not stupid we know a balanced diet is needed, not just for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet but everyone. I once shared an office with a very astute lady called Margaret, she just happened to be a nurse. Her motto about nutrition and diet was this, ‘everything in moderation…including moderation!’ – I couldn´t agree more. Therefore, a bit of a blow out occasionaly was not going to be the end of the world as long as our overall food choices are predominantly good.
So, what constitutes a ‘good`food choice? It´s a bit easier if your vegetarian as cheese, yoghurt and eggs are on the menu. Nuts are always a popular choice and there are quite a lot of different varieties to choose from, salted, unsalted, roasted, honey coated, organic, shelled, unshelled. It seems that being Vegan or Vegetarian does not deprive you of the consumer choice when it comes to your food. Given that most Vegans or Vegetarians I have met over the years have their own personal reason for following their diet of choice they usually are a quite a savvy bunch of consumers who usually care where their food come from. While many try to educate their non vegan or vegetarian friends about the evils of dairy farming, the plight of lambs locked in sheds or the bald chickens in cages that never see the sun so you can eat a boiled egg for breakfast I have never seen one fill my social media news feed with the plight of a nut farmer or a greedy retailer. Well I live in hope so read on and share if you dare!
I recently did some internet research on some health food shops and their produce. To say I was shocked beyond my wildest beliefs was a complete understatement. Being a newish farmer of almonds and olives I have spent the last three years getting the trees back into shape after a long period of neglect to really worry about how Vegans and Vegetarians are being screwed over by by the likes of companies like ‘Wholefoods’ An online British company based in Canterbury. or to realise how much they are screwing over food producers like me. Firstly, they are not even selling European produce. Their nuts have travelled from Australia or the USA. What´s wrong with that you ask? Well most people who shop in health food shops not only usually care where their food comes from but they usually care about the environment also – I may be wrong but I sincerely hope not.
Given that Canterbury is 9,376 miles to Australia and 4,357 miles to the USA we should assume that the almonds are delivered either by plane or shipping tanker. it has been equated that one tanker shipping produce for one year equates to the same pollution as 50 million cars that’s 5,200 tonnes of sulphur dioxide being chucked out into our environment per ship. Even if the produce arrived by freight plane it has been estimated that one plane the size of a Beoing 747 uses four litres of fuel a second. I´m no mathematician but that is a heck of a lot of fuel for the privilege of enjoying some nuts and the laughable thing that I discovered next is that wholefoods then have the cheek to offer to post them internationally which potentially means these little nuts are travelling 1000´s of miles twice.
You can buy these nuts direct from Wholefoods via their website for 15 pounds 27 pence for one kilo check it out here. Also, there doesn´t appear to be any kind of environmental statement on their website – I´m not surprised. Last year I was offered 1 euro 20 cents for a kilo of unshelled almonds exactly like the bag for sale from Wholefoods, and only after I sorted them into various sizes, big and small. 1 euro 20 cents equates to around 75 British pence. It doesn´t take a genius to realise this company and others like it are profiteering to a level that the word greed itself can not comprehend – there is a 14.52 difference between what is being paid to producers like me to what what you the consumer is paying. This is not a new argument given that the likes of supermarket giants like Tesco are repeatedly in the news for screwing over farmers while announcing record retailer profits year after year.
Last year I watched a farmer in a nearby town take a chainsaw to his whole orchard of 30 year old peach trees after seeing how much the peaches were being sold for in a big supermarket similar in size to Tesco. He couldn´t stomach to see a huge retailer profiteering over his blood, sweat and toil so he chopped the lot down and left the land fallow. Imagine if all farmers or food producers did this. Where would we be then? Disassociation with food must stop. It is necessary to question where food comes from, how far it has travelled and whether it has been purchased fairly. As farmers we don´t expect to make our millions on the land. I for one work the land out of love – but love is not blind to injustice or unfair practice.