The (imaginary) starting point
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At some point in the past, all food in the UK was produced by natural methods. This was 'by default', because there were no other techniques available - it was what we would today call 'organic'. People had done their best, slowly breeding better types of plants and animals, working out how to improve the soil with manure, to improve yields and fertility. People's bodies had adapted to eat this local diet over thousands of years.

Three main points can be made about this:-

  1. There were major problems with this 'natural situation':-
    a. insect pests,
    b. animal diseases and sicknesses,
    c. losses due to poor storage,
    d. high costs for the horses which did the work (typically consuming 10% of each farms production, and up to 25% of the national product),
    e. and it was highly labour intensive and dependant on the weather.
    f. famine and hunger were common, even in 'the west'.
  2. Because of these 'random' problems, farmers grew as wide a variety of crops as possible, then if one crop failed, they would have something else to sell or eat
  3. These original problems are now nearly all solved
  4. We have effectively undergone a 'quantum leap' with food in the last century, and particularly in the last 40 years. Many people have diets now where all the components of their diet were unknown or even undreamed of 100 years ago.

In the "Changes in Techniques" Section, I hope to record some of the major steps in this transition / 'quantum leap', and also to indicate what is possible in the future. In the other Sections, I use 'snapshots' from the webpages of some of the companies, organisations and influences which are part of the present 'big picture'. I am doing this to try to see "how they present themselves" to the world, which I find quite interesting.

I am generally writing from a UK perspective - I am sure the pattern is similar elsewhere, but the details will be different. I hope to include enough detail to be accurate, but not too much to be boring.

Although this starting point (when everything was natural ....) is imaginary, I think it still has validity as a sort of reference for the progress and changes which have been made since.

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