“The French, they say, live to eat,” growled Martin Amis in Money. “The English, on the other hand, eat to die.” Nearly four decades on, and the barb still irks like a chicken bone lodged in the throat. English food isn’t so much a cuisine as a culinary kicking boy, the gray, over-boiled punch line to a particularly dreary joke. You know, Scotch eggs and dodgy teeth, spotted dick and rain. Oh, and jellied eels. Always bloody jellied eels.
And I get it, really I do. But in pandemic times, it’s more important than ever to support these farmers, fishermen, butchers, bakers, millers, and cheese-makers who have kept our country fed. Which is why we’re fighting so hard to protect what we love, keeping agricultural and welfare standards high. A battle threatened by the Agricultural Bill, which has already passed through the Commons. The bill is controversial as it does not set any environmental or welfare standards for food imports after Brexit. Which may mean a flood of low-quality, often genetically modified food, ranging from the infamous American chlorinated chicken to feedlot beef, environmentally ruinous and filled with antibiotics and hormones. This is seen as a free-trade concession to Trump.