The 4th Agricultural Revolution, its started…
In the last few months Robert & myself have been taking Jacob our eldest (famous from the Christmas advertising) around the country to look at Agricultural Universities, which is quite amazing as we struggled to get him to read and write, it just shows with hard work to get through his GCSE’s to then be able to study a subject which he enjoys, we have seen him excel and wants himself to do a degree! Mind blowing.
Our University search took us to Harper Adams in Shropshire which is for the record his preferred choice, we were meeting & greeted and taken through to the lecture theatre where a number of different speakers fed us the information we needed to make these big decisions, however we were completely inspired by one lecturer in particular who went onto talk about the rising world population, feeding the population and saving the planet. It was truly mind blowing and so in tune with our own thoughts, having discussed the lecture with friends and colleagues it sparked further conversations and thought processes. People have been genuinely interested so I thought I would put our thoughts in this blog, my first blog so I apologise in advance.
We are all super aware of the decisions we are making with regard to our food choices, there has always been a segment of the population that were food aware but now at long last everybody is talking about it on all platforms with all types of arguments are flying around, it’s nigh on impossible to see the wood for the trees. What is the truth? Is there a definitive answer/solution? How do we make the choice work and still enjoy food without been wracked with guilt? I even saw one girl on social media stating that she was going to be an airairian – somebody that gets all there nutrition from the air! Like that’s going to happen! She’s back on a normal diet you’ll be glad to hear.
As farmers we are pleased that people are actually looking at where their food comes from, but we are also concerned at the misinformation out there. There are so many programmes stating that all Beef is bad for the planet and we shouldn’t eat any. Beef that is produced overseas in Brazil for instance often requires land and thus causes deforestation as a need for production of beef, which is obviously categorically horrendous for the environment. This meat is then shipped half way around the world to its destination, increasing the environmental impact of this supply chain.
Why are we the British consumer even thinking about meat that’s travelled so far? Why are we the British farmer not shouting about what we produce from the roof tops? I think because we are all nervous that if we put our heads above the parapet we will get shot down in flames, thus sparking more bad press for British farmers. The British farmers produce in our opinions the best produce in the world, they are at the forefront of sustainable agricultural techniques, they have to be there is just not enough money in the industry to practice anything other than sustainable agriculture. The same is true for all meat products, fruit & vegetables produce grown in the UK. I would question whether we should be eating anything that is not in season, not in season means its travelled potentially a long way. It’s very difficult for the consumer due to clever marketing campaigns, you really have to look at the packaging in detail to find the source and some of the ‘labels’ even for instance the Red Tractor logo – doesn’t always mean its been produced in the UK it may have just been packed or processed here. It’s a nightmare to deduce the truth.
Definition of Sustainable Agriculture: Agriculture is farming in sustainable ways, which means meeting society’s present food & textile needs, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
As you can ascertain, global agriculture ALL needs to move to sustainable practices, this needs the population to understand their responsibility to future generations. This is happening in many western countries but very hard for developing countries as their immediate need to to physically feed themselves, this is where there is a whole other discussion regarding tourism and the benefits to such countries, Simon Reeve has a realistic view, if you have the chance to read his books, I would recommend them, excellent reading.
Another key benefit to the consumer is that if you make the choice to eat what’s in season, it’s not only local and thus has lower food miles, it with be more cost effective and above all else it will taste fabulous, just look at the strawberry story, we should only be eating British strawberries from about late May until August depending on the varieties and we as growers have managed to extend the season to span these months, but I ask you should we be eating strawberries in January and if you are, how do they taste? We need to be eating fresh strawberries in the summer when the sun has created the sweet taste we so desire and then pick extra in these months and make strawberry jam and enjoy that in winter months, that’s what has been done in previous generations, it makes economic sense and makes the strawberry season even more special when it arrives.
Grass fed produce off sets the methane it produces by the carbon sinkhole it grazes on, grass fed meat is better for your health and well-being as it contains the good essential fatty acids that the human body needs, it is grown slowly, has a good life and helps keep the green & pleasant landscape & countryside that we enjoy, looking the way it does. The landscape would revert to scrub and then trees quicker than you may think if it wasn’t grazed/managed by food production. This subject is massive and open to all sorts or opinions, there is no finite answer and that is the problem, are we all going to stop travelling? We may limit our travelling and alter some of our modes of transport but to stop it all together is not conducive to life today. Should we all have a plant based diet? This is easier to do in the UK in the warmer months but not so satisfying in the winter, so should we still insist on plant diet and eat imported foods such as Jack Fruit, Almonds, Coconut etc that has travelled half way around the word and thus incur a massive Carbon Footprint.
If you want bananas which are a staple of many peoples diets, choose the ones that have come by slow boat rather than air travel, choose oranges from Spain if you live in the UK not Florida, these little steps will make a big impact if we choose to make them.
I’ll post Part 2 of this blog very soon!