Food for thought with JB Gill

1. Why did you decide to become a farmer?

I was able to purchase 10 acres of farmland when I left home, but I had no idea what to do with it. A few people mentioned farming to me, and with JLS coming to an end, I thought it would be a great opportunity to provide better sources of food for my family. Farming is an industry that I now feel proud to be a part of.

2. How have your views on food changed since you started the farm?

I have always enjoyed my food and have been blessed to sample many of the world’s incredible cuisines. Food is essential to our health and wellbeing, so what’s struck me most is how little people know about it and where it comes from. We can’t know everything, but we can do better – farming has made me take more pride in the origins of the food I eat.

3. Have you always been interested in food? What does food mean to you?

I think food is an incredible way to bridge community and society. It has a unique way of uniting people, especially when it is made with love! I was brought up around food, cooking it and sharing it with others, and I believe it has the capacity to shape and enhance our social interaction – after all, we all have to eat don’t we?

4. Could you give us an example, from your own experience, of how the food we eat impacts the environment?

We’re very lucky to be able to taste foods from all around the world, but we don’t appreciate how much it takes to get them to our plates. It uses up so much resource – water, feed, land – just to produce those foods, and then even more to package and transport them. All that effort takes its toll on the environment, but we don’t understand this, because it’s so easy to buy whatever we want. I’m trying hard to help my son Ace understand how much it takes to make the food he eats, so he can appreciate it and not waste it.

5. And do you have an example of how the food we eat affects our health?

I saw with Ace this Easter how eating chocolate (which he generally does not eat at all) changed his behaviour and the quality of his skin. Sugar is good – but too much in our diet is not so good!

6. What should we be thinking about when choosing what to eat? Is it important that food comes from sustainable sources?

I would always advocate a balanced diet of the freshest foods possible. It is easy these days to search online and see what kinds of foods will give you a balanced diet. It is not as easy to consider sustainability as an individual or within our families. I believe this has to be addressed by outlets (supermarkets, butchers, stores, etc) to ensure that when families buy their food, it is not only sustainable but also high quality. The biggest issue is that the import of foreign foods and our own likes and dislikes now dictate much of what we eat. Historically, we always ate seasonal food; now we can pretty much eat anything, all year round, and this makes sustainability a key issue – for the consumer, the food industry and the government alike.

7. Do you have any food philosophies that you’d like to teach your son?

Absolutely, I always use the phrase “all things in moderation, including moderation”. It’s a philosophy I apply to life, not just to food. I believe that if my children bear it in mind it will go a long way to helping them think about their health and the health of our planet.

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