The Full English Accompaniment – No-deal Brexit will cure obesity

What’s piqued my interest this week?

Bear with me.

Are you ready to starve?

Is basically the sensationalist headline that’s been flying around in various forms in response to our governments arse-covering. Pretty much all the major supermarkets have warned a no-deal Brexit will bring food security issues and provision to UK supermarkets will be… spotty (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Remember the #courgettecrisis of ’17 caused by crap Spanish weather (6).

The argument from the Brexiteers is that we should grow our own, in some sort of dig-for-victory rose-tinted halcyon view of post-war Britain. Has anyone explained that crops take time to bloody grow? And the reason the UK became so reliant during WW2 on home-grown produce was food scarcity and rationing? They’re not going to be able to magic up the tomatoes for your £1.99 own-brand high-salt high-sugar pepperoni pizza out of Morris the pensioners’ greenhouse in Didcot.

Knock-on effects of no deal Brexit are no more cheap fruit, veg, meat and processing from the continents fields and factories (7). The price of food will rise. We already have it bloody good compared to the rest of the world. The average UK household spends 8% of it’s earnings on food a year. Compare that to the rest of Europe where it’s more like 10-15% (8).

This is thanks in no small part to cheap imports and the competition between the big supermarkets. They’ve squeezed every inch out of overheads as they’ve grown to maximise profits, with vast supply chains that have taken years to develop. Even then their headline figures are minimal. Check out this chart I pinched from Reddit for Tesco, which has their net profit at a shade under 1.5%:

They can’t soak up wholesale food cost rises. It has to go the consumer. The range of food available will decrease to be more seasonal, and the price will go up to reflect the more expensive supply chain. There’s no need for a bloody sugar tax, Brexit will do that for us (9, 10).

So who are going to be affected as food prices go up?

Well the working class, or should I say those in lower socioeconomic classes, who disproportionately voted to leave (11). Because you have to buy cheaper food, and cheaper food is made with more sugar, more salt, more industrially produced refined products to cover up the lack of actual food (12). Poorer people eat less varied diets consisting of more commercially grown produce imported to the UK. Processing means factories means mileage and countries crossed (13). It doesn’t have to be that way; a healthy varied seasonal diet can be cheaper. It just takes thinking about, time and effort (14).

Outcome of post-Brexit scarcity: either people eat more varied seasonal food because they have to, because that’s all that’s available; or they eat less of the high-sugar, high-fat, low-fibre processed shite that is associated with obesity etc, because it’s expensive (15, 16). The sloven stacking microwave burgers into their slack jaw can now only afford two rather than three at once. Both improve public health (17).

So maybe Brexit will solve one of the greatest ongoing public health crises, starve the nation and (by cost reduction) save the NHS. £350 million is a lot of ready meals.

I’m aware of the irony of this rant given the Full English title.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (now affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day



3 thoughts on “The Full English Accompaniment – No-deal Brexit will cure obesity

  1. I may have pinched your 100% mortgage backed by BOMAD rant but I think this one is a fine curmudgeonly rant worthy of the genre 😉

    Britain will never be self-sufficient in food at current population levels, we are at a high latitude artificially warmed by the Gulf Stream but relatively dark for the mean temperature. We have an antediluvian land ownership model where farmland is an asset class where the aristocracy preserves its capital wealth to pass down the generations free of IHT. A third of Britain has been in the same 200 families since the Norman Conquest. The landowners hire contract farmers but don’t need to turn a profit on the capital asset because of the IHT win, and then there is the CAP production-oriented subsidy regime that the benighted government promised to replicate after brexit, ‘cos else the aristocracy will presumably be revolting that they can’t carry their intergenerational tax shelter subsidised by the common man. George Monbiot asked the Oxford Farming conference in 2015 what do the 99% of us who don’t farm get for our annual £245 contribution to farming subsides other than the opportunity to hunt grouse, enable the aristocracy to pass their ancestral wealth down the generations without paying IHT and have our towns and cities flooded by poor soil management because the contract farmers have to sweat the asset with no view to long-term soil health.

    I am not sure he got a convincing answer, another report said Britain’s soils have only got another hundred harvests before they are too depleted. The McChance and Widdowson government analysis of the mineral content of Britain’s produce shows the trace minerals largely declining since the Second World War.

    We ain’t gonna fix this within the shores of this septic isle, we need to import food. And the nearest place to get fresh food from is the EU. Food is heavy, perishable and low value. Not only was it news to erstwhile Brexit secretary Dominic Raab that Britain is an island and imports a lot of stuff via the port of Dover, which makes you wonder if he did actually go to school, but I recently heard one hyperventilating Brexiter saying it’s all right, aircraft don’t stop at borders because they fall down. This is clearly a fellow who has never seen the films about the 1948 Berlin Airlift. It was extremely tough to supply one city of two million people by air, never mind a whole nation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read that report around the ‘hundred harvests left’ and soil depletion. It’s interesting stuff. Worth remembering that in most areas soils have been enriched massively over the past 3-400 years ever since the serfs were turfed off and the aristocracy carted in whatever mineral/sand/clay was lacking on their newly enclosed land. The last 50 years or so have burnt through hundreds of years of improvement. The farmers I know are going organic, utilising manure more and returning to classical crop rotation because it’s sustainable and although it’s more expensive to do it means less spent in the long term. With current food prices it’s odds-on they make a loss on the crop, but if crop prices go up then perhaps more will move to sustainable practices and not spend their time flooding soil with fertiliser to get the yield and sweat the asset.

      Land and IHT subsidies are a whole other rant for another day.


  2. I think I would rather starve than fork out on any of this ’emergency food’: Kudos to the entrepreneurs who have made money from people buying them at extortionate prices! What got me was the ‘tinned minced meat’ – dog food comes to mind!

    I’m likening the hysteria to when we were told that planes would fall out of the sky due to Y2K or that microwave ovens would explode etc. Someone will make a lot of money from the panic buying/hording and it’ll all be for nothing or rather very little change.

    Anyway, thanks for the shout out and absolutely love that disruptive technologies table – wow, one to look at in more detail and to refer to in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

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