My blood was boiling last night. If you saw Hugh’s War on Waste on BBC1 then you may well have felt the same as we all watched that poor family having their farming business destroyed by Morrisons. Because supermarkets now believe we the consumer will only buy produce that is perfectly formed and looks like it has been artificially created in a plastics factory, they rejected tons upon tons of perfectly good parsnips that those farmers had spent the season growing. Not only were they rejecting perfectly good, fresh food which ended up going to waste when thousands of people in this country struggle to make ends meet, they were killing a 30 year old legitimate and hardworking family farming business.
And for what?! Their own vanity, nice looking shelves and their own profits.
Having checked Twitter (#wastenot) and the programme’s Facebook page, I was not alone. Thousands of us were appalled.
It appears that the large supermarkets treat us like spoilt children and because we don’t know any better we pamper to it and let them supply us with food they think we will buy. And let’s not forget the dairy farmers who are also being fleeced for the sake of supermarket profits.
To be honest I believe that most consumers wouldn’t worry too much what their parsnips looked like, surely it’s more important that they taste good. In fact one of the programme’s contributors pointed out that after a poor harvest recently British supermarkets sold tons of fresh produce that was below their absurd aesthetic standards, and no one even noticed.
Rather than rejecting perfectly good fresh food which is criminal in this day and age the supermarkets should be using narrative to explain to consumers how our fresh food is grown, the work that goes into sewing, harvesting and packaging our food, and they should be telling some of the great stories from their customer’s and supplier’s points of view.
We don’t want perfectly formed false food we want to know that our food is natural, sustainable, tasty and fresh. And we want to know that our farmers, livestock and the produce are all being treated fairly too. The Chipotle Scarecrow film tapped into this with their story back in 2013 and it’s still powerful today.
Using narrative and good, authentic content marketing and the power of their real life brand stories would serve the supermarkets much better than merely deciding what we will and will not buy and eat, and creating ridiculous standards that make a mockery of the whole idea of sustainable farming and food production.
Go Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall …. I’ll be watching again next week!