Be careful what we wish for.

We can’t have it every way

So, we want it every way. We want the convenience of fast food on every corner of our cities and towns and yet when we feel like it, we also want our cutesy little independent restaurant/cafe/ shop to be there when we take a notion to support them. Well- NEWSFLASH- they won’t be there for much longer if we don’t wake up and smell the ‘artisan’ coffee. Every time we choose a fast-food outlet over the independent, every time we choose mass produced over those fervently producing the best of the best, we are hastening the demise of the kaleidoscope of colour, flavour and energy that such a business brings. There are countries where this vista is already a reality. There are regions where the populace was so desperate to embrace all things new, shiny, convenient, and fast that the independent businesses of every hue have simply been extinguished. Be careful what we wish for indeed.

As the great Joni Mitchell sang

don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone

A recent email from one such independent is a case in point ‘is it getting to the stage where they will have to start giving incentives to small business owners to stay open because at the moment it feels like we would be better off from a financial and lifestyle point of view going out and getting a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 job!!!!!

On another note, when did it become acceptable for a café to open in a hobbit like space with no kitchen and buy in everything from some other ‘artisan’ producer? The rush to mediocrity and blandness is alarming.

This may be to cut down on the cost of rent, rates, staff, health regulations and the frankly nonsensical raft of legislation over burdening businesses today. However, it is not ok to have a headline coffee offering to pull in the caffeine addicted public and then pass off some factory-made sandwiches, mass produced pastries and other menu fillers as ‘artisan/ homemade/ made from scratch or carefully sourced. Please give us some credit for being discerning in our eating habits.

The restaurant industry trade show earlier this year was profoundly depressing as the greater part of the floor space was taken up by huge companies selling every conceivable type of processed foods as an end to end solution for the industry. ‘Need a plate of food ready to serve to the customer, meat, vegetables and sauce? No problem, buy it here ready to serve. Made in a factory somewhere and preserved for your unwitting customers. No kitchen? No problem. Anything you want on your menu, you can buy from a catalogue straight to the plate/ display/ counter.’

When did this awful slide towards heavily processed muck happen? Have we forgotten that we are an island rightly famed for the quality of our produce? At a time when we are awash with money and extraordinary food producers of every kind, the overall quality of food being offered across the sector is sliding over a cliff into processed hell.