Ramsay calls for tougher restaurant laws

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 12th May 2008

Popular celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has called for fines for restaurants who serve out of season fruit and vegetables.

Ramsay, who wants restaurants to get more of their food from local sources, claims the plan would boost chefs “levels of inspiration” and lead to improved food quality.

“Fruit and veg should be seasonal,” he said in an interview with the BBC after discussing his idea with British PM Gordon Brown. “Chefs should be fined if they haven’t got ingredients in season on their menu.”

“I don’t want to see asparagus in the middle of December. I don’t want to see strawberries from Kenya in the middle of March. I want to see it home grown.”

The plan has been met with a predominantly negative response in Britain, with claims that it would only worsen the food crisis if Britain’s restaurants began sourcing almost all their fruit and vegetables from local farms. It would also appear hypocritical for a country advocating free trade and globalisation to all of a sudden enforce a law which discourages international trade to some extent.

Duncan Green, head of research at Oxfam, was particularly concerned by the idea. “He [Ramsay], like all of us, wants to tackle climate change, but it is vital that we ensure that poor people who are already hit hardest by climate change are not made to suffer even further,” Mr Green told the BBC. “The million farmers in east Africa who rely on exporting their goods to scrape a living would see Gordon Ramsay’s assertions as a recipe for disaster.”

The obvious difficulty would appear to be the policing of such a law. For effective law enforcement the cost to taxpayers would be high and, for that reason alone, the plan is unlikely to be taken up in Britain or anywhere else in the world anytime soon.