Rapeseed grown here in the UK will be more vital than ever due to lost sunflower crops in Ukraine, says Paul Routledge. The hills of rural Yorkshire are alive with brilliant yellow flowers
The weekly shop my mother sent me to buy at the Wakefield Industrial Society Co-op always started the same.
Sugar, butter, marg, lard, cheese. I was in terror of getting it wrong, blurting out “shutter, bugger …”
Nobody cooked with vegetable oil in those days. It was always lard, especially in fish and chip shops. It daresay still is somewhere.
Palm oil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil were unknown in most households. And olive oil was Popeye the sailor man’s shrieking girlfriend in Hollywood cartoons.
Fast forward and vegetable oils are now the panic talk of the kitchen and the supermarket aisle. Because of the war in Ukraine, from where 80% of supplies come, sunflower oil is in desperately short supply and costs are soaring.
But the hills of rural Yorkshire are alive with brilliant yellow flowers. Thousands of acres of rapeseed are coming up for harvest. And prices are rising faster than the thermometer in July. From £ 200- £ 300 a tonne last year to £ 1,000 now, with obvious knock-on in the shops.
At least we have a home-grown alternative to foreign imports from the monoculture palm tree deserts of Malaysia, and I rather like the sight of the Wolds carpeted in bright yellow.
No doubt the fundamentalist tree-huggers will lecture me on the wrongs of using land for food production that could be “rewilded”.
But it takes a crisis like the war in Ukraine to bring home the vital necessity to grow more of our own food – instead of importing nearly 50% as we do now.
I wouldn’t like to go back to the era of heart-attack-on-a-stick cooking fat, usually made from pigs. Vegetable oils are healthier, and rapeseed is happy in British soil.
Still, I’m glad I never had to ask the Co-op for something that would have made me blush. Lard might do that now.
Ben to follow Boris?
Intense speculation surrounds the Boris Question. Who will succeed the Great Liar of Downing Street?
Embarrassing revelations of his wife’s non-dom status and his personal wealth, have cost Chancellor Rishi Sunak momentum. And dim Liz Truss, masquerading as Foreign Secretary, may be the darling of the faithful Tory but she’s a non-starter for voters with two brain cells to rub together.
Tom Tugendhat, a former lieutenant-colonel, has thrown his helmet in the ring. A plausible chap, but not exactly a household name.
As Johnson’s “crisis, what crisis?” leadership hurtles to its vitriolic end, if you’ve a spare fiver you might put it on Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. A former captain in the Scots Guards, he’s talked low-key military sense rather than bellicose rhetoric about the Ukraine war. And he’s delivered the arms to brave Ukrainian freedom fighters.
Big money taints all it touches. Look at English football.
The $ 44billion takeover of social media platform Twitter by Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and a “free speech absolutist,” will unleash a torrent of bile, trumpery and political manipulation.
It should be renamed Trolls R Us.
I hear that comedian Eddie Izzard fancies becoming a Labor MP in their native Sheffield at the general election. Why wait? Stand in the forthcoming Wakefield by-election and trounce the Tories!