I have always loved the Autumn and harvest season because it is the culmination of the farming year. Now is the time that the success, or otherwise, of our year of toil is crystallised into a few weeks. All the work, worry and anticipation is revealed as either a good, bad or just plain ordinary result! I know this sounds a little dramatic but a farmer’s fate as a business and therefore, their very existence as farmers, is often decided by one or two good or very poor harvests. Let me explain a little. Today is September 11th and this year’s harvest is barely finished, but some of the crops which will be harvested next year are already growing, which is before we know how good or otherwise this year’s harvest has been! Never mind the price at which this year’s crops will be sold for. Farming in the modern age has become a huge gamble; all the components of growing crops continue to increase in price, as the profit from growing them continues to shrink, there are no guarantees that a profit will transpire at the end of the process, but the investment and work involved is a certainty. The world seems to be ever more demanding of food at lower costs, but high-quality food is so important, and farmers can only be pushed on price so far before it becomes impossible to continue.
Producing high quality food is a long process and fraught with pitfalls along the way. For instance, from conception to the table for a loaf of bread is normally 18 months, a rasher of bacon is 18 months, a pint of milk is 3 years, a pound of beef is 3 years, and a piece of our best Wyke Farms Cheddar, if you count breeding the cow, is 4 years! But I digress, going back to where we started, all of us farmers face the Autumn season full of hope; we will always plant the best seeds and tend the crops and animals lovingly until next Autumn when we’ll once again find out if we have been successful in making a profit and therefore able to continue next year and do it all over again.
As you can see there is no such thing as fast food, in fact the production of food is, if anything, becoming slower, it’s only the preparation and speed at which we eat that is speeding up!