A SCOTTISH Greens councillor in Shetland has called for politicians to take food security more seriously after years of “ignoring” the problem.

This comes after the Shetland Islands were left without a food delivery from November 15 to 21 due to harsh weather.

Stormy conditions meant that crucial food supplies were unable to be delivered to the islands.

Speaking to The National, Cllr Alex Armitage, who represents Shetland South, said: “Things like this frequently happen, although it’s not often for as long as this.

“About 10 years ago, it happened around Christmas time and Tesco actually chartered an aircraft to bring a supply of Christmas food.”

On Sunday night, Armitage posted a video of the empty shelves in Lerwick Tesco.

He did not blame Tesco for this specific issue but did suggest that it showed the “fragility” of our food economy.

He continued: “If we have a political problem or a weather or climate related problem, then it has a huge impact on our food supply. It’s one of our most basic needs and I just think people should know that the system upon which our food security is based is not secure.

“For so long, politicians have just ignored food security. It’s something academics and scientists have been talking about for quite a few years now.

“We need to intervene and make sure we are all well fed and going to be well fed in the future.”

The councillor argued that local food production needs to play more of a role despite Shetland’s resilience to issues such as this one.

He explained that, on Fair Isle, which has a population of around 60 people, a couple of weeks can pass without a food delivery.

“In terms of public health and the local economy, all of these issues are embedded in food supply problems”, Armitage said.

He continued: “I think in the future more people will be working on the land and getting involved in food production.   

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“The ships which supply us now are much more modern which makes things better but I think culturally in Shetland we are much more resilient because this kind of thing has happened throughout history.

“If you go to the home of a lot of older Shetlanders, particularly in the more rural areas, you’ll see cupboards full of tins and things.

“We need a rich mix of producers, consumers, supply chain networks and local shops as well as a national plan that has standards and is properly audited.”

Armitage added that bigger supermarkets could be doing more to help by creating more links with local food suppliers.

He said: “At the end of the day, a supermarket’s job is to look after profit for their shareholders.

“I would argue that our local stores have much more of an incentive to look after the community, these are small businesses embedded in their areas.

“One of my local shops, they are supplied by a wholesaler in Shetland as well as a lot of different local producers.

“Our food system is very complex and complex systems - if you don’t have enough redundancy - they can become brittle.

“This profit-motive driven model of food production and supply does well for major grocery retailers.

“I’m quite scared of the future when we have climate change, we’ve had a pandemic, we’ve had examples of how conflict can disrupt food supply.”

Armitage pointed to the passing of the Good Food Nation Bill as a step in the right direction, saying it showed how Scotland was “beginning to understand” food supply issues.

The bill enshrines in law the Scottish Government’s commitment to Scotland being a "Good Food Nation".

It aims to ensure everybody benefits from the food which is produced, bought and served across the country.

“I think certainly in the Scottish Parliament, we are beginning to understand these issues”, Armitage said.

Tesco was approached for comment.