A very British Olympics?

Posted on 13 Feb 2012 in Go Local | 0 comments

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At hiSbe we’ve had Olympics fever for a while… Yes, we like a bit of sport and love the positive spirit of the Games – but just think of all that FOOD!

It’s estimated that we’ll be serving 14 million meals to all the visitors attending the 2012 Olympics venues and, on top of that, millions more Brits will be out and about watching the Games over the Summer and eating in pubs, cafes and restaurants all over the country. What an amazing opportunity to showcase British food and farming and give a great big boost to the food that’s grown and reared here.

For advocates of “how it Should be” in food and farming, the 2012 Olympics is also a high profile platform to highlight the relationship between physical fitness and healthy food and show that ethical standards are important in food.

That’s why, in 2007, the New Economics Foundation, Sustain and the Soil Association published Feeding the Olympics to hold LOCOG to their promise to deliver the “greenest and healthiest Games” so far and “to ensure that the food served before, during and after the Games is local, seasonal and organic as was promised in London’s bid.”

So in December 2009, LOCOG set out a detailed Food Vision, saying “Our vision aims to seize the opportunity to use the transformational power of the Games to celebrate and promote the variety and quality of British regional food.”

It says that all dairy products, beef, lamb and poultry must be British and certified by the Red Tractor scheme.

Some people are asking “what about McDonalds?”

The hope was that McDonalds, THE official food sponsor of the 2012 Olympic Games, would step up and commit to these food standards and set the example for all the other food service businesses, big and small, that will be serving up British grown food to the public.

McDonalds may not be known for its healthy food, but such is the power of these global food companies, that it nevertheless sponsors events associated with world-class sporting health. In July 2010 the BBC reported that, “Global sponsors have exclusive Olympic worldwide marketing rights. The value of the contracts are not typically released, but are thought to sell for $100m (£64.5m) for four years’ worth of rights.”

McDonalds did make a well-publicised commitment to British farming in 2010, but now we’re seeing an emerging concern that they will not source British-grown food certified by Red Tractor. Carol Ford, our good friend from Growing Direct and lover of fresh produce, posted this article from Private Eye on the hiSbe Facebook wall. It states “The fast-food chain McDonalds will be officially exempt from “Red Tractor” food standards, thanks to its status as Olympic Partner Organisation.” Instead, it seems McDonalds will continue to rely on cheap meat from Thailand and South America.

With McDonalds expected to serve one on five of all meals to visitors at the 2012 Olympic Games it seems that corporate muscle and the drive to put profit before people may trump the British Food Vision…

At hiSbe we are showing our support for British food and farming with the Must Be British campaign, which aims to spread the word to cafes, pubs and restaurants everywhere to serve up British-grown food during the 2012 British Olympics… after all, isn’t that just how it Should be?




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