So, we did the Real Food Festival at Earl’s Court last weekend – May 7 – 10. Huge amount of people buying porter from Norfolk, mutton from Scotland and chocolate from the Congo. I found it rather moving – the man making Congolese chocolate. Somehow, an individual who bothers to invest in such a ravaged and vulnerable country seems to be doing something positive, where the supermarkets’ whimsical demands for cash crops seem just the opposite.
There seemed to be huge amounts of cash changing hands (including ours); I was happy to pay these food-producers who had had to take four days out during the farmers’ high season to sell me their stuff. I enjoyed the slightly anarchic atmosphere – the feeling that all we consumers and all we stall-holders were a grass roots community, conspiring against the corporations to take back control of our food.
One chap advertising himself as ‘from Dragon’s Den’ was selling little sprays of Balsamic vinegar that look like the old Gold-spot breath fresheners. He encouraged the children to spray straight onto their tongues; they duly obliged and winced at the result. Then we bought one for nearly four quid – Ellie’s taking it to school to spray on the salad.
The book did not get very much noticed, unfortunately. Earls Court having become a veritable cornucopia, there wasn’t a lot of intellectual activity going on. I was glad I hadn’t taken the chickens along (insurance liability, apparently). There were a couple of Marans in a lovely arched pen. They were rushing up and down hysterically – a natural enough response to all that noise, the flashing lights and general chaos of consumer excitement.
I queued to get my little pot of fried Jersey Royals and was sad to hear from the lady handing them out that indeed what I had heard on the radio is true – 5 weeks with no rain and the crop is looking pathetic; most of it is likely to fail.
‘Oh, I know,’ said the lady infront of me in the queue, ‘did you see that TV programme about food production around the world? They were showing these Indian farmers who have to dig their wells deeper and deeper into the ground. With all that climate change stuff going on, it won’t be long before Spain dries up…’
‘Better get digging,’ said I.