The National:

THE first duty of any government is to feed its people. Our farmers do an excellent job of putting high quality, safe, fresh food and drink on our tables. The days of March being known as "the hungry month" have been forgotten, a lingering remnant seen in the Easter egg hunt where the folk memory of gaunt children looking for wild bird eggs to supplement family larders emptied by long winters has been replaced by excited, chocolate-fuelled children with no idea the Easter bunny also was a crucial food source.

Gone are the days crofters carried their cattle from the byre to the meadow because the creatures were so weak from lack of good fodder they couldn’t walk themselves, with the impact that had on how often they calved and so produced milk - another reason Scotland’s native sheep were so important for their high milk yield. Our native breeds have an ancient, hardy resilience for good reason. Post-war agricultural policies, consolidated by our membership of the European Union, were triggered by the realisation that food security is national security.

READ MORE: Brexit: Scottish customers face empty shelves and lack of fresh produce

Scotland’s farmers used to feed our nation - but it was a diet of simple fare: oats, barley, mutton, beef, pork, neeps, tatties, carrots and leeks. As a child, I remember my delight seeing fat red onions for the first time, draped over the handlebars of "Onion Johnnies" who sold them round the doors on bicycles - an expensive whiff of "The Continent". Several years later, in an art class, I saw a red pepper for the first time; my teacher was horrified to see a good chunk of the still life I was meant to be painting disappear as I discovered how delicious it was.

We have become so used to plenty - plenty of food, plenty of choice - we have forgotten what it is to be without. Well, I say "we". There are those among us who do not live with plenty. They do not even live with enough. And they will be the first hit as shortages see the prices of basic staple foods rise. Many will point to this as a problem with a political solution, given it is a problem caused by politicians, and they are not wrong. But what do we do right now?

Revolutions are driven by need. We need a food revolution. Organisations like Nourish Scotland, Scotland the Bread, Scotland Food and Drink work to drive the farm to fork movement in meaningful ways. Farm box schemes and local dairies delivering milk in glass bottles are gaining in popularity as people recognise that short chain food supplies are crucial, not just for the climate emergency but for food security. It is, surely, beyond folly to send Angus tatties to Manchester to be sorted and sent back to Scotland when we have a local population ready to eat them?

Scotland’s dairy farms are threatened as contracts are pulled, as local production plants are closed and the milk sent to refurbished facilities in the north of England - yet milk from Yorkshire suppliers is delivered to shops across Scotland. Don’t get me wrong, that’s excellent news for the Yorkshire farmers and I celebrate our produce heading to other nations, but there has to be a balance.

The UK Government is passing laws and signing trade deals which will push our farmers over a precipice, while putting lower standard food and drink on our shelves. I spoke to a farmer last year who lost ¼ of his broccoli harvest, tens of thousands of portions of nutritious food, because he couldn’t get pickers to come and harvest it because of Brexit. The Department of Work and Pensions could make changes to make it easier for local people to take on seasonal work but, so far, they have refused to do so. For the "I picked berries when I was young" brigade - please, don’t insult the skill and hard work it takes to pick fruit and vegetables for table use.

READ MORE: Brexit has caused 'massive hole' in numbers of fruit pickers, farmers say

Climate change could well mean fluctuations in the availability of produce internationally. We aren’t going to be a nation which can make its own balsamic vinegar or cornflakes. But we are a nation that can put much of our own food on the shelves, a nation which has some of the most sustainably-farmed meat in the world. Speak to your supermarket managers, write to your newspapers, contact your local elected representatives, tell them how important it is that we keep Scotland the Brand. If we can see it, we can support it.

You cast a ballot every time you open your purse.