On one of the coldest weeks of this Winter I found myself in the North of England surrounded by the fruits of the sunny Med.It was one of those bizarre moments that typifies a job like mine. I am toe to tip of my head in protective clothing, my cameras have been wiped down to decontaminate, the wind is howling outside, snow fast approaching, and I am focused on the opening of a pipe that is about to release thousands of olives in brine, last seen in Spain just south of Sevilla. Such a combination of contrasts. The natural beauty of Olives, the harsh edges of the strict sanitation rules of modern food processing. The memories of the hot sunny days in Spain when these Olives were harvested (I was there to document it) to the dark, cold stormy Lancashire winter days that we were now experiencing.
I am fast becoming fascinated by our food processing Industry. I feel it very much goes under the radar. Apart from the bad press when some whistle blower uploads a video of someone picking food up from the floor, no one knows anything about it. I have had the opportunity to visit many a food plant and have been impressed by the extremely high standards that are adhered to. The high levels of hygiene, the huge investment in machinery, the care on the provenance and traceabilty of every item. These place are quite often hidden in Industrial parks behind anonymous shed walls, yet they are bustling communities, working at least 20 hours every day to provide, great, safe, fresh food on our shelves.
The work force is, as it is every where made up from Eastern Europe but this just adds to the feeling of a sub level community. They are the back bone of so much of our food industry. Quietly getting on with work that is pretty tough. Very monotonous, cold, stringent on its levels of hygiene and checks. Constantly being audited by multiple clients. This community not only embrace the work but they, have a strong “family” mentality and pull together as a unit making the day a good one and the job a rewarding one. I would love at some point to be able to document the life of these workers. Particularly pertinent as Brexit looms ever closer.