Vegetarian diets produce fewer greenhouse gases and increase longevity, say new studies

“Consuming a plant-based diet results in a more sustainable environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, while improving longevity, according to new research. Based on findings that identified food systems as a significant contributor to global warming, the study focuses on the dietary patterns of vegetarians, semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians to quantify and compare greenhouse gas emissions, as well as assess total mortality.”


These is not some dubious claims by a group interested in promoting itselef but scientific research from a university published in a respected journal. It makes interesting reading but will no doubt antagonise those with vested interests.

The original articles appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

1. Climate change mitigation and health effects of varied dietary patterns in real-life settings throughout North America

2. Sustainability of plant-based diets: back to the future

Still true, more important than ever


Available from Cath Tate Cards item number CT70

Move to the new server

The move to the new server earlier this month went well. Unfortunately this morning we had a major problem which meant starting the move again. It was a local issue and nothing to do with the server host. Everything should be restored by now but we are still going through the site to check each page.

Monsanto want to patent common vegetables

4764_tomatoTakeover_1_460x230You have heard all the hype about Monsanto wanting to ‘feed the world’ well here is the reality, they want to own the world by taking out patents on common vegetables. That means that every time you grew one of their patented veg you would pay them for the privilege. Too outlandish to be true? Definitely not, just look at their track record; they have prosecuted farmers for accidentally growing GM plants where the seed has been self propagated i.e. the wind has blown it onto their land.

This company has morals and is only intent on total domination of the World food supply. We need to act fast before they slip through their patent applications. PLEASE sign the Avaaz petition and help them for 1 million signatures HERE

If you live in the EU contact your parliament member and tell them they have to stop this, you can find them HERE

This really is  major threat to the security of our food and the right to grow what we want without having to ask permission and pay fees to Monsanto. Please do something to stop this.

Hot bed update

It has been an incredible winter – again. The very cold weather in March has really delayed plantings but the hot beds have produced a crop. The winter mixed salad sown on 8 Jany 2013 has been giving us very welcome fresh salad since the end of March. for full details and photographs.

Scientists link weather to Arctic sea ice loss

An article in The Guardian has linked the loss of sea ice in the Arctic to changes in weather patterns. Many climate scientists have been saying that the effect of ice melt is much more severe than first thought but the comments have been played down by governments who are preoccupied with the economy. Why do they find it so hard to accept that climate change will have a far bigger impact than any of their supposed election winning strategies to improve economic growth?

We have got to the stage where climate change is affecting the whole world and yet nothing is happening to mitigate the effects. Consider just the weather in the UK for a moment; here, in the Peak District, the local council is still battling to clear 6.5m  (20ft) snow drifts. many roads not normally affected by winter snow were blocked for several days and towns and village were cut off. Many other areas of the UK affected yet it soon ceases to be news and attention shifts to the perennial short termism that afflicts UK politics.

Maybe climate change is just not a vote winner? maybe the issue is just too big and potentially too destructive for the government and the population to comprehend? Or are we still in denial, still have our collective heads in the sand? I know there are still climate change skeptics out there and they seem to be fulled by the ‘red top’ news papers who seem intent of following the line that it is all a myth or a plot dreamed up by the left.

So far individuals have taken steps to make changes to their life to reduce CO2 but we need all governments to take this issue very seriously and to do that NOW. And we need the help of all of the scietific community to work together. I have suggested this before but is it not time to look at research budgets and divert money into climate change mitigation? Dare I suggest that some large, prestige projets should be put on hold as what is the use of understanding what happened immediately after the big bang if we have messed up the very World we are trying to understand? maybe funding the the LHC and the Square killometre array should be diverted to climate change mitigation research so that we can understand and reduce the impact that we human beings have on the world we so cherish.


Time to start planting?

It is traditional to plant potatoes on Good Friday. As Easter is very early this year, and the weather is still cold and wet,  do not even think about it. With a bitterly cold east wind for the next few days and forecasts of 30-40cms of snow for the north then this is not the time to even think about planting anything outside.

The best way to know when it is right to sow seeds is to check the soil temperature. If you want a quick guide then see this page. If in doubt be patient and wait for things to warm up and you will find that seeds will germinate quickly and grow into much stronger plants.

Soil remineralisation revisited

Ten years ago when the new garden was started I wanted crops in the first season. The soil was very heavy clay and the ground had not been cultivated for a long time. Conventional wisdom said that it would take a couple of years to get the soil ready for planting.  At about the same I came across report about the decrease of the mineral content of fruit and vegetables. An idea was born!

For many years two government scientists, R.A. McCance and E.M. Widdowson, collected information about the nutrient content of food. The data was processed by David Thomas and presented as a report;  ‘A study on the mineral depletion of the foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991′.

This looked like the ideal time to do something different, to create a more or less instant garden and, more importantly, to remineralise a tired and neglected soil.

Sourcing ‘rock dust’ was not easy and initially I  found a quarry some miles away who would virtually give me what they considered to be a waste product. The only expense was the transport. After finding a local supply of municipal compost there was suddenly two large piles of material that was used to make soil. You can read more about the project  HERE.

It is generally thought that rock dust should be applied to soil every five years so it is time to remineralise again. Now it is easier to source the right product as the Seer Centre supply 20Kg bags of dust. I used this in 2008 and am more than happy to use it again.  The usual disclaimer applies, I have no commercial interest in this product and have not been asked to endorse it. The reason I use it is because I believe it works. The soil at the garden is now very healthy and produces phenomenal yields. In 2011 the usual potato bed (in a five course rotation) produced 130lbs (~60Kg) from 19 tubers, last year it was down to 100lbs  (~45Kg) due to the bad weather and many people did not get a crop at all so I think we did well.

Using rock dust is just one component of a healthy soil but I really do believe that healthy soils grow healthy plants which leads to healthy people. Yes, there is a lot more to it than that but getting minerals back into food is important and something I will continue to do for as long as I grow food.

Book on hot beds

If you want to know how to make hot beds for really early crops then the best place to start is by reading a new book by Jack First. Jack appeared on the UK TV programme Gardeners World last year. He showed just what hot beds could do with lots of salad crops and very early new potatoes.  The usual disclaimer applies, we have no financial interest in this book and any recommendation is because we found it useful.

Click the book to order.


Composting kitchen waste update 25 Jan 2013

A couple of days ago I noticed the thermometer in the lid of the Hotbin was showing about 8C. As the air temp was below zero it had to be hot gases from working compost. I inserted the compost thermometer and it read 30C.

Today the lid thermometer was reading ~15C and the compost thermometer shows 42C. I think that is impressive considering the air temperature is -2C today and the bin is still less than one quarter full. It looks like the composting kitchen waste trial is already a success.


The compost temp on 23 Jan 2013, it is now 42C

Update 26 Jan 2013

After the heavy snow last night it was easy to see that the Hotbin was working – the air coming out of the vent on the lid had melted the snow. The lid thermometer was showing 22C and the core temp was slightly under 60C.

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