Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Changing Portugal an occasional observation
Driving into the Portuguese serra, modern urbanisations give way to poor rural. Just like Christopher Columbus left Spain in search of the land of opportunity, neglected farmhouses and for sale signs testify that the local Algarvian youth is taking its chances in the cities.EU regeneration grants have helped stabilise unemployment and enterprising firms have invested in polytunnels to provide northern Europe with supermarket friendly winter strawberries, out of season asparagus and roses for Christmas.
But this is not enough- sustainable farming is sadly being erased.
That the Algarve makes its living from fishing is apparent, and my walks with the dog on local beaches witness a younger generation showing a reassuring interest in keeping this age old supply chain alive, but EU health and safety directives are doing their damnedest to ensure fresh daily catches are not sold direct, and must be subject to processing and certifications.
My daily visits to the market make me wonder how long traditional working markets will last. It is the older generation that bring their fresh grown produce into town and man the market stalls. There is no evidence of their offspring showing a desire to keep generations of farming alive. Even in Portugal the daily shop with your basket in the market is giving way to a weekly visit to the supermarket.The German manufactured ready meal is fast becoming a replacement for culinary heritage and slow cooking.How long will it be before I will no longer be able to buy a still warm egg from a smallholders tin bucket, and the stomachs of Algarve fine diners will solely be fuelled by cash and carries