RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Why farmers are better off planting windmills (2022)

When Waitrose starts warning us to stock up on canned goods, you have to believe there must be something in the scare stories about looming food shortages.

Britain's most middle-class supermarket chain says we should be eating at least one tinned or frozen dinner a week to give us 'wiggle room' when planning meals.

That way, we won't be wasting increasingly scarce fresh ingredients. We're also advised not to go shopping on an empty stomach in case we impulse-buy food we don't need and which is destined to end up in the bin.

The way things are going, we'll all be forced to choose between green cheese and brown meat in future

Waitrose is the latest supermarket to scrap 'best before' dates on packaged fruit and vegetables, following the lead of Marks & Sparks. In future, shoppers should use the old-fashioned 'sniff test' to determine whether food has gone off.

As a rule of thumb, the presence of maggots is a good indication that something is long past its prime, as is anything which looks like a test bed for the production of penicillin.

I've always favoured the yardstick used by Walter Matthau's celebrated slob Oscar Madison, in Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, after fetching food from the broken-down fridge to feed his card-school buddies.

70 per cent of the food we throw away is probably perfectly edible

Offering the plate to his pal Murray the cop, Oscar says: 'I got, uh, brown sandwiches and, uh, green sandwiches. Which one do you want?'

'What's the green?'

'It's either very new cheese or very old meat.'

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'I'll take the brown.'

The way things are going, we'll all be forced to choose between green cheese and brown meat in future. Probably wise to follow Waitrose's advice and open a tin of Alphabetti Spaghetti, just to be on the safe side.

When two of the top supermarket companies feel it necessary to tell us what food to buy — and what not to — you can be sure things are getting serious.

How long before the Government declares a 'food emergency'?

Waitrose is the latest supermarket to scrap 'best before' dates on packaged fruit and vegetables, following the lead of Marks & Sparks

Getting rid of 'best before' dates is only sensible and long overdue, in light of the fact that 70 per cent of the food we throw away is probably perfectly edible.

But urging us to switch to canned goods smacks of wartime rationing, suggesting there may be trouble ahead. Stand by for the Bog Roll Bandits once again laying siege to Costco and stripping the shelves of baked beans.

When I wrote about this rich bounty during the Covid lockdown — as we were being advised to stay at home and live off whatever we had in the pantry — Gary immortalised Mum in one of his fabulous, inimitable cartoons. It's an image I'll treasure, along with her legacy of tinned food

I have visions of a Mad Max-style landscape with hideously obese women in XXXXL tracksuits brawling in the aisles over the last value pack of catering-sized processed peas. (Presumably they'll have worked their way through all that panic-bought dried pasta by now.)

Joking aside, though, politicians have only just started waking up to the genuine threat of food shortages further down the line.

For too long, Britain's farmers have been hamstrung by the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy and muddle-headed eco-fanatics at home.

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Sharp increases in the cost of living, the recent drought and the war in Ukraine — which has pushed the price of wheat and cooking oil through the roof — have exposed the urgent need to address the crisis in our countryside.

Britain has the expertise and capacity to become virtually self-sufficient in the production of essential foodstuffs. The quality of our fresh produce, from vegetables to beef, is second to none.

Politicians have only just started waking up to the genuine threat of food shortages further down the line

But, as the NFU president Minette Batters warned in the Mail on Sunday, British farmers are frustrated at every turn by a bureaucracy in thrall to EU rules and noisy 'conservationists'. Just as hysterical 'climate change' protesters have been able to thwart fracking, which would meet all this country's gas needs for at least 50 years, so has the Tibetan bobble-hat brigade been instrumental in steering agricultural policy away from food production.

Fields that could be used for growing crops or breeding cattle are lying idle because there's little profit in farming these days.

As Jeremy Clarkson has discovered, the only way to make money out of the land is to open a restaurant in your barn and let Amazon Prime make a documentary about it. Clarkson has done more to highlight the problems facing Britain's farmers than any politician. Now, thankfully, someone is paying attention.

Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss is pledging urgent help if and when she becomes Prime Minister. Not before time.

Six years after we voted Leave, Fizzy Lizzie — a former environment secretary — is promising finally to rip up petty rules and regulations generated both in Brussels and Whitehall. That's what taking back control was supposed to be about. The tragedy is that it has taken so long.

NFU president Minette Batters warned in the Mail on Sunday, British farmers are frustrated at every turn by a bureaucracy in thrall to EU rules and noisy 'conservationists'

While she's at it, Truss should rein in the metropolitan tree-huggers campaigning to make farmers' lives as miserable as possible.

Over the past few weeks, this column has had great fun lampooning the craze for 'rewilding' the countryside by reintroducing exotic species such as bison in Kent and Norwegian sea eagles in Scotland.

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I joked that some of these headbangers wouldn't be satisfied until Britain had been turned into Jurassic Park.

But, in truth, it's no longer a laughing matter. Along with an official mania among the Guardianistas who run the Environment Agency for flooding agricultural fields to create wetlands suited to our old friend the Depressed River Mussel, the rewilders are manufacturing the conditions for food shortages.

Minette Batters says the future of Britain as a food-producing nation is under threat as never before

I suppose if push comes to shove we could always eat bison burgers and roast sea eagles.

But, as it stands, farmers are better off planting windmills than wheat. Minette Batters says the future of Britain as a food-producing nation is under threat as never before.

Scandalously, she maintains that 'food is viewed as an unfortunate by-product of delivering for the environment'.

This is where legislating for the demands of a shouty, single-issue minority of self-styled 'activists' has brought us — in agriculture, as in so many other areas.

Unless there is a radical sea-change in government thinking —specifically over agriculture and energy — we face a grim future of queueing in the dark for everything from bread to petrol.

For now, though, best start stockpiling canned food

For now, though, best start stockpiling canned food. Not that the generation who lived through World War II would need any prompting.

When my mum died in March, she bequeathed us a rich inheritance of tinned goods — from scotch broth and Mulligatawny soup to evaporated milk and canned carrots. Much of it was priced in old money and had moved house with her about half a dozen times.

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When I wrote about this rich bounty during the Covid lockdown — as we were being advised to stay at home and live off whatever we had in the pantry — Gary immortalised Mum in one of his fabulous, inimitable cartoons.

It's an image I'll treasure, along with her legacy of tinned food. You never know when all those cans might come in handy, especially if there's a run on baked beans at Waitrose.

A proper copper says no to the knee

Today's edition of Mind How You Go comes from Hampshire, where police arrested an army veteran for retweeting a photo of a swastika made out of gay pride flags.

A few weeks ago, in this column, I compared the triumphalist display of pride flags in London's Regent Street to Berlin 1938. Maybe I'll be getting my collar felt, too.

Policing the internet for ridiculous 'non-crime hate incidents' has become an obsession with the Old Bill, who have for years now put 'celebrating diversity' way ahead of actually nicking real villains.

At last, hope comes along in the shape of Stephen Watson, new chief constable of Manchester. After telling his officers to smarten up and attend all burglaries, he has condemned the pursuit of trivial non-crimes.

'We've got ourselves involved in stuff which is just not a policing matter. We've wasted our time as a result and we've caused people to question, frankly, whether we know what we're doing.'

Hallelujah. There speaks a proper, old-fashioned copper.

Watson also has no time for constantly genuflecting before anti-police groups such as Black Lives Matter. He takes the knee to no one except 'the Queen, God and Mrs Watson . . . '

But not necessarily, as Eric Morecambe might have observed, in that order.

For years, I've been trying to fathom who Lady Di's ex-minder Ken Wharfe reminded me of. Reading his memoirs in the Mail on Sunday, the penny dropped. He's the spitting image of Cheerful Charlie Chisholm's rival DS Ronnie Rycott — appropriately enough, in Minder.

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Lady Di's ex-minder Ken Wharfe (Right) reminded me of Cheerful Charlie Chisholm's rival DS Ronnie Rycott (Left)

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