A Bad Apple
It’s not often I get on my soap box, but after (reluctantly) visiting my local Tesco Metro today, I feel the need to vent.
I normally steer clear of the fruit and veg aisles in supermarkets, preferring to get whatever we don’t grow in the garden from the market, but after reading this report from 2005, I thought a spot of reconnaissance was in order to ascertain whether things had improved at all. These were my findings:
There were 14 ‘lines’* of apples on offer. The countries of origin for these apples were as follows:
South Africa: 4 (29%)
UK: 3 (21%)
France: 2 (14%)
Spain: 2 (14%)
New Zealand: 1 (7%)
Italy: 1 (7%)
Country of Origin not displayed: 1 (7%)
*I should point out, there weren’t 14 different varieties as some varieties doubled up, being sold in both bagged and loose apples forms (if that makes sense?!).
I find these results very disappointing. The British apple season is in full-swing so why does Tesco deem it necessary to fly apples half the way around the world? In 2005 Tesco is recorded as stating that it planned to double sales of UK apples over the next three years. Three years on and this certainly doesn’t seem to be the case in my local Tesco.
By importing apples during the British apple season, Tesco is not only failing British growers, they are also contributing to climate change. There is also a risk that traditional varieties could die out and orchards could be lost. Common Ground estimate that about two thirds of Britain’s orchards have vanished since 1960. If supermarkets continue to import apples then I’m sure we’ll see many more disappear. So what can we do? On a personal level I have taken a pledge to only buy apples from the UK. I have also written to Tesco to ask why they import apples during the British apple season and have given a small donation to Common Ground to help support their campaign for local distinctiveness. I’m very interested in the idea of community orchards and hope to learn more about this soon. I realise that my actions aren’t exactly going to change the world overnight but every little helps!