Felicity Lawrence tells us of her first realisation that Britain was different:
I can remember the precise moment I first understood that we had been taken into this fantastical, nature-defying system without most of us really noticing. It was 1990 and I had been living and working with Afghan refugees in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier province for a long period. The bazaars where we bought our food were seasonal, and stocked from the immediate region. Back home on leave in the UK, I had that sense of dislocation that enables you to see your own culture as if from the outside. It was winter, but the supermarkets were full of fresh fruits and vegetables from around the world. The shelves looked wonderful, perfect, almost clinical, as though invented in a lab in my absence; but there was no smell. It was vaguely troubling in a way I couldn’t identify at the time.
It really does take a certain type to clearly see the difference between the cornucopia of our present society and its food markets, contrast it with those of medieval peasantry, and decide that it's the cornucopia that has to go:
The UK’s clock has been set to Permanent Global Summer Time once more after a temporary blip. Courgettes, spinach and iceberg lettuce are back on the shelves, and the panic over the lack of imported fruit and vegetables has been contained. “As you were, everyone,” appears to be the message.
But why would supermarkets – which are said to have lost sales worth as much as £8m in January thanks to record-breaking, crop-wrecking snow and rainfall in the usually mild winter regions of Spain and Italy – be so keen to fly in substitutes from the US at exorbitant cost?
Why would they sell at a loss rather than let us go without, or put up prices to reflect the changing market? Why indeed would anyone air-freight watery lettuce across the whole of the American continent and the Atlantic when it takes 127 calories of fuel energy to fly just 1 food calorie of that lettuce to the UK from California?
Our answer would be that we can and we like it. Which seem good enough reasons to us really. But this is not Ms. Lawrence's point at all:
Leaving the EU could be an opportunity for a radical rethink of the food system, but the government shows little sign of grasping it.
After some 10,000 years of this agriculture stuff we've developed the technologies that allow us to be free of geographical location and the associated weather systems. Ms. Lawrence's argument is that because this works we must stop doing it.