Camilla Macciani, MA Migration and Diaspora Studies
Walking through Tesco’s corridors, as the day of Brexit gets closer, many might think of what will be left on the shelves after the UK leaves the European Union. With still uncertain trade arrangements, supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsburys do not yet know which suppliers will be available in the case of a no-deal Brexit. The issue of food supplies has emerged as one of the most pragmatic and tangible concerns, to such an extent that retailers and even hundreds of people have started stockpiling food in the event of a no-deal scenario. While the UK government have reassured people that there wouldn’t be any food shortage, a no-deal Brexit will have dramatic consequences on food supplies: at least one third of the food on British tables comes from the EU, with shares that reach 80-90 percent for fresh vegetables and fruits. If free trade is not achieved at the last stages of the negotiation process, the price of food imported from EU will considerably increase, partly falling on consumers’ backs.
As suggested by the National Farmers Union’s (NFU) President, Mrs. Minette Batters, this is a vital moment to talk about food supplies’ sustainability and home-grown food. However, while acknowledging the importance of preserving EU high-quality standards after Brexit, no mention has been made about the ethics of EU food production.
This does not come as a great surprise since concerns regarding labour exploitation within the agricultural sector have not yet received any level of public attention comparable to that attained by organic food and its environmental sustainability. Nevertheless, they should.
If the chance of a no-deal Brexit compels us to think how food prices might increase, we’d better reflect upon why some were so low in the first place.
Going back to our Tesco’s corridors and stopping in front of tomato sauce shelves, we find different brands sponsoring the unique Italian taste of their products, evoking romanticized ideas of Sunday lunches with old grannies cooking pasta for the whole family, under the shiny hot sun. Some of their labels state: “hand selected at their sweetness”. No doubt this is true, but at what cost?
During the last year, at least 21 migrant workers died in Southern Italy, due to precarious living and working conditions and institutional neglection. The last victim was Moussa Ba, 28 years-old from Senegal, who died in the night between the 15th and the 16th of
The Italian agricultural sector is dominated by a system of recruitment and exploitation named ‘
In the last decade, Italian media coverage and public attention around this issue
While these are all important steps forward, it must be highlighted that they often tend to frame the issue only in terms of the misconduct and criminal