Thursday, 3 January 2019

The Scourge of Intensive Farming


Stocks Down Farm from Old Winchester Hill

The most important books I have read in 2018 are about the way our food is prodiced and the massive and destructive changes to our age-old farming practices brought about in the last 60 years. These are principally the change from raising animals on pasture to feeding them inside on surplus grain, coupled with the use of chemicals to sustain high levels of grain production. The loss of pasture grazing also brings about a steady decline in soil fertility and a reduction in nutrients finding their way into our food. 



In 'Grass-Fed Nation' Graham Harvey writes: 'We have allowed a small cabal of laboratory scientists and their corporate backers to change the very nature of the food we eat. They have substituted their own technologies for the natural processes that have fed humankind since we evolved on the planet. And they are fast destroying the land that feeds us. No one asked us if we wanted our food produced by Monsanto and Sygenta rather than by nature. There’s been no national debate, no referendum, and it would be hard to think of an issue more important than the nature of our food. The silent revolution has been mostly brought about by the secretive lobbying of governments and public servants. Fortunately, we now have the knowledge and the means to reverse the takeover of the food supply. It’s an opportunity presented to us by our grasslands. All we have to do, each one of us, is to insist that the meat dairy foods that we eat come from animals grazing pasture. It will mean our diets are healthier. Even more important we will be putting nature back in charge of food supply.'

Isabella Tree published an article last week that should be read in the debate about the push to eat less meat https://www.theguardian.com/…/veganism-intensively-farmed-m… and 'Grass-Fed Nation' should also be read in the debate about greenhouse gasses from livestock.

Note: I grew up on a farm - Stocks and Harvestgate Farms in the valley below Old Winchester Hill - which were farmed by Patrick Lawford from 1950 to 2002. Originally there were sheep on the downs and wheat, barley and potatoes in the lower fields. Beef cattle were also reared on pasture and crops and pasture were rotated in the time-honoured fashion. Patrick brought a shepherd from Litchfield who stayed with us for many years. We had a Jersey cow for milk,  butter and cream and lots of chickens (when not decimated by the fox) scratching about on grass next to the vegetable garden. Although the farm gradually became largely arable (mainly barley for malting), it has now, under a new owner, reverted almost entirely to sheep.

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