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 === Food for Thought === === Food for Thought ===
- 
 Annie Gurner – Deanery Rural Advisor Annie Gurner – Deanery Rural Advisor
-  ​As I write this column in early October, we are in the midst of the time of ‘mellow fruitfulness’ – the cereal harvest is now in, the apple pickers and cider makers are working flat out, and the early mist and chills are warning us of a winter coming. ​ For the younger generation seasonal produce is losing its relevance as we expect to find fruit and vegetables, bread and fresh meat in our shops all the year round. ​ Sometimes, I feel so fortunate to have all these food choices; other times I am nostalgic for the loss of anticipation that eating with the seasons brought.+As I write this column in early October, we are in the midst of the time of ‘mellow fruitfulness’ – the cereal harvest is now in, the apple pickers and cider makers are working flat out, and the early mist and chills are warning us of a winter coming. ​ For the younger generation seasonal produce is losing its relevance as we expect to find fruit and vegetables, bread and fresh meat in our shops all the year round. ​ Sometimes, I feel so fortunate to have all these food choices; other times I am nostalgic for the loss of anticipation that eating with the seasons brought.
    
 I have attended about a dozen harvest festivals this Autumn, to celebrate food production and local farm producers, and to give thanks for our forgiving and productive local soil, and all their hard work.   A new feature of harvests this year is the ubiquitous collection of produce for local food banks. ​ Whilst I suspect we have always distributed harvest foods to the poor, the housebound and the homeless, and it is a lovely to see the local primary schools continuing with this practice, there are now an estimated half a million people in the UK who are reliant on food aid.   We are accustomed to seeing British and other charities and government agencies deliver food aid to third world countries, but increasingly recognise that this is an emergency, stop-gap measure. ​ Yet government figures suggest that four million people in the UK now suffer from food poverty, and the Trussell Trust (a network of UK food banks), reports the creation of two or three new food banks each week throughout 2011 and 2012.  And this in the seventh richest country and the world! I have attended about a dozen harvest festivals this Autumn, to celebrate food production and local farm producers, and to give thanks for our forgiving and productive local soil, and all their hard work.   A new feature of harvests this year is the ubiquitous collection of produce for local food banks. ​ Whilst I suspect we have always distributed harvest foods to the poor, the housebound and the homeless, and it is a lovely to see the local primary schools continuing with this practice, there are now an estimated half a million people in the UK who are reliant on food aid.   We are accustomed to seeing British and other charities and government agencies deliver food aid to third world countries, but increasingly recognise that this is an emergency, stop-gap measure. ​ Yet government figures suggest that four million people in the UK now suffer from food poverty, and the Trussell Trust (a network of UK food banks), reports the creation of two or three new food banks each week throughout 2011 and 2012.  And this in the seventh richest country and the world!
    
-A recent report called Walking with the Breadline – the scandal of food poverty in 21st Century Britain (available from Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty), suggests that the withdrawal of benefits or delays and sanctions on payments have gone too far and need to be reviewed urgently, and together with unemployment and rising prices of fuel and food, contribute significantly to this situation. ​ They also propose more priority be given to addressing tax dodging by companies to help avoid further benefit cuts.  What can we do?   ​Perhaps,​ in addition to keeping up our own generosity to local food banks, we could take time to tell our elected representatives what we think about food poverty. ​  In the countryside,​ deprivation is often more hidden, and our neighbours may well really value the offer of a hot meal with us or some sharing of our produce. ​ In the meantime South Somerset is celebrating their new Anaerobic Digestion plant which is to be partly fuelled by our food waste, collected from the kerbside. ​ Apparently this facility may generate enough electricity to power several thousand Somerset homes. It makes you think, doesn’t it?     ​**Annie Gurner**+A recent report called Walking with the Breadline – the scandal of food poverty in 21st Century Britain (available from Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty), suggests that the withdrawal of benefits or delays and sanctions on payments have gone too far and need to be reviewed urgently, and together with unemployment and rising prices of fuel and food, contribute significantly to this situation. ​ They also propose more priority be given to addressing tax dodging by companies to help avoid further benefit cuts.  What can we do?   ​Perhaps,​ in addition to keeping up our own generosity to local food banks, we could take time to tell our elected representatives what we think about food poverty. ​  In the countryside,​ deprivation is often more hidden, and our neighbours may well really value the offer of a hot meal with us or some sharing of our produce. ​ In the meantime South Somerset is celebrating their new Anaerobic Digestion plant which is to be partly fuelled by our food waste, collected from the kerbside. ​ Apparently this facility may generate enough electricity to power several thousand Somerset homes. It makes you think, doesn’t it?   
 +**Annie Gurner**
  
  
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