Category Archives: organic farming

Food and climate change

“Food has not been the focus of climate change discussions as much as it should have been. (…)  We can still act and it won’t be too late”  

Barack Obama, 26 May 2017.[1]

If you have ever wondered why food is such an important part of climate change then read this article from Grain. It questions the belief that agriculture accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emission and say it is nearer 50%!

The changing climate is already having an impact on food supplies. We are all vulnerable, wherever we live, which is why we need more sustainable and resilient ways to grow food.

MPs calls for 100% organic farming by 2050

According to a story on the Delano site, Luxembourg MPs are calling for 100% organic farming by 2050. They get it, they understand what being organic means.

The UK government would rather get into bed with Trump and US farming with its GM crops and chlorine washed chiceken. Know which sort of food I prefer to eat!

A worker sprays a field with pesticides. This view could be a thing of the past in Luxembourg if the country makes a full transition to 100% organic practices  Photo: Shutterstock

Growing food after oil

This was the headline for a recent article in The Guardian.  I am sorry to say it followed the usual formula of trivialising the issues by focussing on a couple who had setup a small holding to grow salads and raise a few animals. It also included a photograph of a vegan cafe growing their own salad using hydroponics.

James Koch (left) and James Smailes at their vegan cafe, Suncraft, where they grow salad leaves hydroponically. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Observer

Why is growing food hydroponically seen as the easy answer to food security when it is very much part of the oil-based economy?  ‘Hydro’ uses artificial fertilizers dissolved in water to feed the plants. These chemical fertilisers are made using huge amounts of gas, a fossil fuel!

The belief that the nutrients in soil can be replaced by the right chemical mixture shows a deep misunderstanding about how plants get their nutrients. There are other issues including the substrate in which plants are grown, it often includes enerygy intensive, single use material like rockwool, perlite and vermiculite.

Hydroponics is portrayed as a ‘magic bullet’ that provides an easy way out of a complex problem. In reality it boosts the profits of the immensely powerful agrochemical and fossil fuel industries and offers false hope.

The photographs, videos and TV interviews with people growing food underground and in shops and restaurants makes good news stories. The rows of veg, usually salad crops, under  LED lights creates an atmosphere of technology providing self-sufficiency.

The problem is that it takes a lot of words to explain that growing food in water containing dissolved chemical fertilizer under artificial lights is neither sustainable nor self-sufficient.

Hydroponics can never be the silver bullet for food production. Growing fully sustainable and nutritious food can only happen if we change the way food is produced and marketed. That means the end of the supermarket supply chain and a step back from the high tech, high input chemical growing that has such a strangle hold on farming.

We need more small, organic market gardens and farms round the perimeter of towns and cities that can supply local shops. That means seeing agricultural land as a vital part of our survival rather than a commodity to be used for the greatest profit. Until that happens, we will have no food security with a very real risk of starvation and famine in the so called ‘developed world’.

Broccoli Is Dying. Corn Is Toxic. Long Live Microbiomes!

Do you want the cheapest food possible? If so this is what you get: “Data going back to 1940, as reported by Eco Farming Daily, shows: “The level of every nutrient in almost every kind of food has fallen between 10 and 100 percent.”

This is not anything new, it is well documented and we have mentioned it before – “A study on the mineral depletion of the foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991.” see the PDF is here.

There is a stark choice: you either go for the cheapest food and kid yourself that it is good value for money or you buy decent food that is not produced using high inputs of chemical fertiliser and chemical pesticides  –  organic food!

See this piece in Scientific American

What are organic standards?

Common questions about choosing organic food are; how do you know it is organic? and Is it worth it?

To be sure that it is organic look for the certification labels.

The UK has a rigorous certification scheme run by the soil association, some say it is the best in the world! It is illegal to say or sell something as organic if it is not certified.

Is it worth the extra? That depends on how much you really value the food you eat and your health. Non-organic food will contain pesticide residues at varying levels. The government set a maximum daily dose for each of them but they have never faced the problem of multiple chemical residues.

The ‘cocktail effect’ of pesticides has long-been recognised as an area of concern in the UK. Little has been done to understand the human health impacts that may occur due to continued exposure of the multiple pesticide residues that consumers eat on a daily basis.

From; http://www.pan-uk.org/dirty-dozen-and-clean-fifteen/ accessed 20/07/2019 07330

If you value your health and want to eat good food then choose certified organic produce!

 

 

Soil and CO2

This is by far the best explanation of soil sequestration (storage) of CO2 in soil that I have seen. I cannot understand why farmers, gardeners and governments are not jumping on this as a way to help to drastically reduce atmospheric CO2.

Get the PDF here

Why can’t we imagine how the land feels?

This article in The Guardian raises issues that explain why the world is in the state it is. If we see the planet only as a resource to be ruthlessly exploited then we will kill ourselves and every other living organism. What we have forgotten is that everything we need we need to survive comes from the Earth.

This is particularly true of soil. If it as only seen a substrate to provide support for engineered plants that rely chemical inputs to survive then we are doomed.

The loss of soil to erosion and resulting prediction that there is only 40 years of topsoil left should be a resounding wake up call. Yet there is no panic, there are no demonstrations in the streets, there is no understanding of what it means.

How supermarkets create food waste from field to table

The article is full of information about waste in the supermarket food chain. What is surprising is that a lot of waste comes from farmers over producing for fear of not being able to supply.

Riverford founder Guy Singh-Watson has openly spoken about his experiences in the 90s: “When I used to supply the supermarkets you generally grew about a third more than you thought you would sell, just to make sure that the supermarket buyer didn’t have a tantrum if you ran short, and so routinely, you have more than you can sell and so you just mow it off and plough it in – that’s the normal thing to do.”

The overriding issue is how supermarkets have come to dictate the whole agricultural industry.

See the article here on the Wicked Leaks web site