Experts are warning that the era of cheap food could be over as by 2050 there simply won't been enough land to feed the world's population and carrying on as we are isn't an option.
The Government has invited producers, supermarkets and consumers to suggest how the food system should look in the next few decades.I see four reasons why we are facing a food shortage.
1> Overpopulation. The obvious and most unpalatable answer is that there are just too many of us. How we go about solving that problem is a minefield and nobody is going to want to tackle that one.
2> Biofuels. As demand for biofuel increases, fields of crops are being rerouted from stomachs to engines. As we have seen already, the cost of basics like bread have increased as less crops are grown for consumption, therefore nudging the staple diet of many out of their reach. Arable land is being given over to fuel production instead of feeding people.
Unbelievably there is something called a set-aside subsidy where EU farmers are paid not to grow anything. There is an astonishing 9.4 million acres of land standing idle in Europe.
3> Imports. In my local supermarket there are apples from New Zealand, 11,600 miles away. Carrots from South Africa, 6070 miles and carrots from France, 612 miles away. Why are we importing food that we can grow here? Put to one side the carbon footprint of dragging fruit and vegetables from the other side of the world to our shelves, it is obviously going to be more expensive than bringing in a truckload from a local supplier. It also takes food away from countries such as the case in Ethiopia where it is exporting grains while 12,000,000 of its population barely survive on humanitarian food aid.
4> Supermarkets. Britain's largest supermarket, Tesco, have recently posted profits of more than £3bn Sainsbury's, Britain's second, made a £543m profit and Asda, the third largest, made £422m. All this despite the Worldwide recession. The secret behind such massive profits is the obscene mark-up supermarkets place on their produce. Obviously the cheaper they can buy from producers and the more they can get from consumers, the more money they make in profits. The greed of supermarkets is pushing the prices of food up and reducing the ability of customers to buy the staples what they need.
So my answer would be to stop the obscene practice of paying farmers not to grow food, invest in other forms of powering our cars and vans that doesn't sacrifice our food, tax food from outside of the UK and subsidise locally produced food and whack a huge windfall tax on supermarkets that post massive profits.
It really isn't that hard to work it out.