Cricketing jokes were in the air at Lord’s last week when ministers Miliband, Flint and Dandha launched the Government’s plans for 2007-08 to be Year of Farming and Food in Schools (YFFS). Fronted by Sir Don Curry and the brainchild of the energetic Sir Mike Tomlinson, the chief inspector of schools, this initiative won all-round support.

Across the political spectrum,

absolutely everyone acknowledges that something has gone seriously wrong with British food culture and that an effort to build something better is long overdue.

David Cameron gingerly entered the territory last week at the Slow Food UK launch. And earlier this year, Digby Anderson, retiring Director of the Social Affairs Unit, made English (not British) food culture the subject of his parting

tirade. He veered into elitism, not to say moralism, when he implied almost that the English are too lazy to eat properly. But is it laziness or lack of knowledge?

Cameron had a more delicate task, as he attempted to tap into new unease about supermarket concentration, on the one hand, while paying homage to (former Tory-supporting) Tesco et al as national champions on the other.

Last year, when chairing a review of what has gone wrong with Scotland’s diet and health policy, my fellow panellists and I noted how quickly analysis of policy failure can slide into what we called the ‘wrong consumer’ analysis. It goes like this: everything is fine with agriculture/processing/retailing/foodservice (delete where necessary), if only we had the right consumers! The offer is right, customers won’t do what is best for them. It’s not our fault!

YFFS aims to tackle just this sort of distancing by building on the Curry Commission’s plea to re-connect farmers with consumers. But is this severance new? Urbanised UK consumers turned away from farming two centuries ago and then the countryside kept them out.

Cheap food policy enshrined that split. Parmjit Dhanda, schools minister, wittily said at Lord’s he had to visit family in the Punjab to find out what farms looked like.

I wish YFFS well, but it must be the first step in a long strategy. The joy at Lord’s was seeing many pioneers, educational experiments and projects uniting. Their experience needs to be built into the curriculum, not just in a one-off year. If that doesn’t happen, YFFS will fail and the ‘wrong consumer’ analysis will be reinforced.