Britishness vs Englishness

Bifes Mal Passados (which translates as uncooked steaks?): Portuguese academic describes English as ‘filthy, violent and drunk’. Anyone who has been to England has experienced at least two out of three with his or her own eyes, every single Friday is drink till you drop day; what’s interesting is the reaction in the UK to this:

Britishness: The world seen from a higher plane, stiff upper lip, fair play, the rule of law, self deprecating, sophisticated, dark sense of humour which is much appreciated everywhere, one of the important places in the world.

Englishness: The world seen from a much smaller place, feel outraged when faced with the obvious, lash out, pettiness, ignorant provincials from an island to the north west of Europe.

What they have in common: geography, truly, unmistakably and irredeemably dreadful food. When faced with the latter the British will shrug and accept it, think of the saving graces at Waitrose; the English will utter something about the great English breakfast (disgusting) or look to start a fist fight.

How did this sense of Englishness survive Britishness, given rising standards of living over centuries? Should the Union be dissolved simply on this evidence?

10 things you need to know about the global food system (The Guardian)

Informative and entertaining 12 minute video from feedingninebillion.com.

Their four proposed solutions:

  1. Science and tech: Local solutions for local challenges. As opposed to one size fits all, like North American products for Europe, o European methods for sub saharan Africa.
  2. Improve distribution; short term food aid. The naysayers will forget their christian roots in the altar of mammon and talk about communism; it’s plain morality and common sense, although not without putting corruption in the picture.
  3. Local food systems as a buffer. Not as the way to feed everyone.
  4. Stronger regulation, for farmers, for finance, for the environment. “Left unregulated, financial institutions behave badly” amen! The baying naysayers will see this as unnecessary government meddling in spite of the obvious market crisis; government intervention does need to be transparently controlled,

I would propose a fifth: consumer responsibility helped by transparency: Where does our food come from? Who does the farmer have to pay to produce? Which nasty corporations would we not want to ultimately be buying from (taking into account that only a handful of them supply most of the grain for instance)?

All solutions depend on the willingness to do something, which goes against dogma (the market gods know what they’re doing, we don’t want to make them angry) and sheer stupidity (the party of no in the US); unchecked government action is not enough.