On Jackfruits and Halloumi

A tweet from the #ORFC conference I am following on twitter.

My rapid reponse:

I agree but there is a dimension that would need addressing if such a scenario were to be part of any blanket policy. This is the question of how and where you locate ‘britishness’ or ‘culturalness’ as property and territorial relation. And how to make sure you avoid localness being partnered with ‘blood and soil’ politics.

Many foods and ingredients in a country, whether Kent or Cyprus, are part of cultural exchanges and the ingredients can often be part of diasporic trade chains stretching around the world. People grow with other fauna, flora, fungi, fields, and fruits. They do not travel as ‘just humans’.

For example, who is eating jackfruit and why? Do they have the opportunity to grow jackfruit in England or have the means to participate in growing another fruit to embed in their culture? I have never eaten jackfruit so I am not going to talk about that more. What I can talk about, based on my own work is halloumi cheese imported to the UK or the export of live goats to Saudi Arabia from Southern Spain or Extramadura Jamon to China.

These all involve shipping a food or its ingredients, based on something particular to them, around the world. However, they are fundamentally different relations and so need different ways to address them, not simply as question of local or not local as teh speaker implies.

For example Halloumi cheese emerges out of colonial diasporas (who were British subjects) maintaining ‘cypriot’ cultural relations through food and animals and reproducing themselves as British subjects, but British Cypriot subjects. Later this has then become a part of a cultural exchange with vegetarians in London and onward and upward for Halloumi.

Unfortunately the point has been reached for reasons of private property relations that Halloumi is now in short supply, is rubbish, its manufacture is ruining the Cypriot environment and local politics, its being shipped all the way around the world and Cypriots can’t even afford to eat Halloumi back in Cyprus.

The answer is not to demand we all eat cheddar or “British lamb” in England (though it is dam tasty) or to carry on as is either. It’s to cosmolocalise food, ingredients and halloumi. Otherwise localism becomes ‘blood and soil’ politics. Contact me if you want to know what that means, and how that delivers the particularities and meaning of Halloumi, as well as quality cheese, around the world and with the best social and environmental benefits for people in Cyprus and around the world.

Image: The private property stamp on the header image says it all

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