The supermarkets take us for mugs. And we let them | Yvonne Roberts

Tesco’s ‘farm’ labels play on our confusions about food. We like the idea of local provenance, but want low prices too

The voice of Enid Blyton is in there somewhere, telling us, once upon a time, about those happy children of Cherry Tree Farm, frolicking with the lambs in rural paradise, enjoying perpetual summers, wholesome diets and the traditional pleasures of British agricultural life. They live in a land in which nobody has to visit a food bank to feed their family; childhood obesity is unknown, and globally, millions of people are no longer starving to death. Instead, good quality, affordable, unadulterated food, grown locally, is the norm for all – some fairy tale.

“Farm fresh” is a label that works as a nostalgia button long pushed by retailers and advertisers to summon up dreams of quality, reliability and value. Instead, it ought to warn us of an increasingly dystopian world. One in which shoppers are too often taken for mugs. Yet, we continue to give the supermarket chains our custom, no matter how badly they behave.

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