Category Archives: Supermarkets

Silent Spring

For many years I have wanted to read Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” but have not got round to it mainly because I thought it would be a bit too full on. Well it is and it is not! First impressions are that considering it was published in 1962 it feels like it was written yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has changed in 58 years? Everything and nothing. We are now more deeply committed to high input agrochemical farming and even more reliant on pesticides and other chemicals that have invaded every part of our daily lives.

I was asked recently what is the best thing we can do to increase biodiversity in gardens. My answer is simple, stop using insecticides. There is no excuse for blasting everything with a spray just so it looks nice and kills all those supposedly nasty insects and then wonder why there are so few birds around.

This year Spring in our garden was better, the number of birds seemed to have increased and the dawn chorus returned. Then lock down ended and the birds stopped singing and spring became silent again.

I am left with the feeling that the only thing we have done since 1962 is to speed up trashing everything we depend on. It feels like we are on an increasingly steep downward spiral that will lead to the total destruction of the planet that gives us all we need unless we do something.

So, what can we do?  We can find the courage to be different and not be part of consumerist society where status is determined by ownership of the latest toys. We can find an alternative to factory farmed food soaked in chemicals and wrapped in plastic. That might mean spending a bit more on what we eat and less on holidays, mobile phones, or other non-essential goodies we are coerced into accepting as the norm. Or we do nothing and take it on the chin and leave the next generation with little but a dying planet.

The choice to downsize, consume less and eat organic food is no where near the hair shirt mentality touted by those who want to retain the status quo. It can be liberating, joyful even, like a release from always having to follow the crowd, to keep up, to gain status by being seen to buy the right stuff.

It took a brush with death for me to make new choices 30 years ago and yes, I did see my whole life flash in front of me like a failed B movie. You don’t need to go through that to realise there are better alternatives. Learn from others who have done it be proud to be different. Relax and enjoy what we have right in front of us. Now is the time to change and live differently, seize the moment.

Food, farming and biodiversity

It was great to see an extended piece on Channel 4 news tonight about biodiversity and farming and biodiversity. They even showed a UK farmer using regenerative agriculture techniques seeding directly into the ground without ploughing up the last crop. The farmer was very enthusiastic about the quality of his soil saying it was like crumbly fruit cake.
(See www.no-till.uk)

Then there was the Derbyshire Farm that has been trialling wildflower strips and a short piece with Rosemary Furness who wants to make linked wildlife corridors.

It was all good but what irked me was some of the commentary at the beginning that implied that farmers grubbed out hedges to make higher profits. Let us get this straight, they were encouraged to ‘modernise’ to increase output by government as part of the never-ending quest for the cheapest possible food.

Farmers are not like other businesses producing items to sell on the open market for the best possible price. Instead they are contracted to supermarkets to supply a certain quantity of produce when the retailers demand it. If demand drops or the retailer finds a cheaper source, wants a loss leader or to have a 2 for 1 offer, the farmer pays.  If they fail to do what the supermarket requires, they lose the contract.

The blame for biodiversity loss should not be shouldered by farmers alone as successive governments have been more than happy to divest control of the food supply to the nine supermarkets that supply 90% of food in the UK. The idea that the overriding criteria for ‘good’ food is price and price alone drives biodiversity loss.

What needs to change is the whole food supply chain from the way food is grown to the way it is sold to what we eat.  If we want more biodiversity and a more stable eco system then we, as consumers need to take responsibility for the food choices we make. We need to change the way we eat, see food as more than just pit stops to fill the tank and realise that our health is directly linked to the health of the planet that sustains us.

Beat the food shortages

The thing about Covid-19 that strikes us most is the panic buying of food and other essentials. The hoarders are stripping supermarket shelve. The stores are reacting by limiting the number of certain items and forcing long queues to get into stores. Is it time for food rationing? Evidently the government has a permanent stock of ration books.

The current situation highlights the dominance exerted by a very few companies. Supermarkets control the production and growing of food, its distribution and the retail sale. Consumers have no choice other than which store to choose. That cannot be a good thing.

Professor Tim Lang talks about food security (2009)

What needs to come out of all this is the recognition that food security in the UK is at best  precarious. A point that has been made many times over the years but one that has been ignored by everybody.

We need to be more self-reliant both as individuals and as a nation. We must get back to taking personal responsibility for our food and stop relying on a very small number of multinational companies to do everything for us.

We need to take personal responsibility for what we eat and not trust others to feed us endless processed food and ready meals. Most of all, we should grow more of our own food. We have done it before in times of crisis and we can do it again!

Now is the perfect time to start, cultivate the garden, buy some seeds and GROW FOOD!
You do not need an allotment or a large garden and you also don’t need to dig everything in sight! Follow the first link below to see how you can start today and have a working veg garden in an afternoon.

Quick and easy spare metre beds
Growing potatoes in a dustbin
Sowing seeds 
Veg growing chart
Composting

If you need individual help and advice then please contact us and we will be pleased to give any help and support you need.

True cost of cheap food is health and climate crises, says commission

From the Guardian article:
“The true cost of cheap, unhealthy food is a spiralling public health crisis and environmental destruction, according to a high-level commission. It said the UK’s food and farming system must be radically transformed and become sustainable within 10 years.”
Read more

From the report:
“Our own health and the health of the land are inextricably intertwined [but] in the last 70 years, this relationship has been broken,”
The full report

Germany banning glyphosate by the end of 2023

The German government just announced it will be banning glyphosate by the end of 2023 in order to protect the environment and the health of the public.

This follows on from research  by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) that concluded that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic. The report also stated:

IARC also concluded that there was “strong” evidence for genotoxicity, both for “pure” glyphosate and for glyphosate formulations.

Glyphosate based weed killers are available in UK Supermarkets. It has become just another domestic chemical like washing up liquid and carpet shampoo. Consumers need to be aware of the risks they take especially when it is used on lawns where children play.

Sales of pesticides have become so normalised that it was even shelved next to food in a local branch of Tesco earlier this year.

It is time for a Europe wide ban, including the UK!

Why Growing Food is The Single Most Impactful Thing You Can Do in a Corrupt Political System

See the original article and watch the videos at realfarmacy.com/

I have always said that growing your own food is the most anarchic thing you can do. Politicians and big business do not like independence, they want us to be docile consumers. To be the least bit self-reliant subverts that. That’s what makes me smile every time I get veg from the garden!

Growing food is easier than you think, you can start in an afternoon – see how

Glyphosate/Roundup Decimates Microbes in Soils and the Human Gut

There has been lots of research over the years that showed that glyphosate does not break down on contact with soil, as was claimed. It now looks as if it also damages soil and the human gut.

The latest study was carried out by a team led by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen. The researchers suggest that glyphosate use could be behind the recent spike in gut disease noted in industrialized nations that genetic reasons alone have failed to explain.

People ask me why I grow/buy organic food, this is the answer.  And it is on sale in many supermarkets next to household cleaning products and sometimes next to food. It should be banned.

Glyphosate from Monsanto’s Roundup Decimates Microbes in Soils and the Human Gut – New Science

The British countryside is being killed by herbicides and insecticides – can anything save it?

“From orchids and moths to hedgehogs and toads, our wildflowers and wildlife are dying out. Making the meadows safe again is a huge challenge – but there are glimmers of hope”

The Guardian – 31 May 2018

Gloomy prospect … meadow flowers in Upper Teesdale. Photograph: Kevin Rushby/The Guardian

What has been obvious this year is the lack of insect strike on the windscreen of cars! Some say that it is a good thing, but it emphasises the huge decline in insect numbers and should sound alarm bells. The link to insecticides is obvious yet there is no response from government.

Pesticides are now sold in supermarkets alongside cleaning products. A sign of how normalised they have become. This was evident in a local branch of Tesco where pesticides were shelved next to food!

In the garden it is lawns that get the full treatment. In Spring each year there are endless TV adverts show ways to blast weeds with the latest product. For a pesticde free lawn, see this site

With climate change happening now there will be a huge impact on food supplies. Keep a small area of unsprayed grass but use the rest to grow food!

Things you can do:

  • Make a pledge to become a pesticide free household, especially if you have young children.
  • Think seriously about growing some food. Start with one metre square raised beds, all the information you need it here.
  • Become more informed about pesticides in food and how to avoid them.
  • Check out the Pesticide Action Network for more information.

 

 

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