I'm happy to announce that I am NOT alone in my beliefs that a return to grass based farming is benificial to all...scientists agree with me.
You can read the whole piece from the ESRC here.
It's called Alimentarium and it's housed in a rather fine old building that used to be the company's HQ before they built their steel and glass palace just along the lake-side.
Nestle is the subject of a long-running campaign as a result of its marketing of branded baby milk to mothers who'd be better off breast feeding. Which is quite a neat summary of what all food companies do – replace natural, nutritious foods with inferior, processed ones. Nestle's brands include Cheerios, Kit Kat, Carnation, Munch Bunch and Maggi 2-minute Noodles. You get my meaning. Well anyway, with a collection like that I was interested in what they'd have to say on
I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. The food museum was well laid out with imaginative, hands-on displays that got you thinking about what you ate and how it might affect you. Particularly revealing was a display on the food culture of the local area -
canton. I learned that diets in the region were strongly influenced by rural traditions. Meat was at the heart of the main meal, with cheese an integral part of many cooked dishes. Regional products linked the local cuisine to vinyards, farms and mountain pastures, we were told.
What's interesting is that the Swiss are a very healthy nation. In the international league tables of life expectancy they're right up there with
That's one of the key messages I took away from the Alimentarium, though to be honest I knew it when I went in. That and the fact that a boycott of processed products might just turn out to be very good for your health.
The headline ran: “GM bean could help prevent heart attacks.” What followed was a thinly disguised publicity puff for Monsanto’s latest gift to humanity – a GM soya bean whose oil apparently raises blood levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in people who consume it. This will protect them against heart disease and diabetes, we’re told, while speeding the growth of brain cells in the young.
The best source of long-chain omega-3s is, of course, fish oil. That’s why the Food Standards Agency recommends that we all eat a portion of oily fish each week. But as The Times reminds us, fish stocks are fragile. It seems we’re about to change our hostile attitude to all things GM when the new soya oil turns up in our yogurts, salad dressings and cereal bars.
Quite why journalists are so ready to swallow this corporate mythology is beyond me. The fact is there are safer, healthier ways to get omega-3 fats even if the supply of fish oil does run short. For a start would could free our cattle from their factory farms and put them back on fresh, green pasture as nature intended.
Many industrial countries now house beef cattle in vast sheds and feed them on industrial grains – the sort agribusiness companies like Monsanto supply the chemicals to grow. There’s plenty of evidence that grass-fed beef contains far higher levels of omega-3s – including the important long-chain variety – than the beef of cattle fed on grains.[i]
One of the reasons our diets are now so dangerously low in omega-3s is that industrial farming chooses to feed grains to ruminant animals in place of grass.
To add a sort of spurious objectivity to its biotech promotion, The Times carried a comment piece from the director of Rothamsted Research, a publicly funded agricultural science institute. Not surprisingly the research chief was generally in favour of GM technology, suggesting that the world may need it to feed a soaring population.
It’s a technology that also happens to support tens of thousands of science jobs around the world. In the 1970s the British research establishment identified genetic engineering as a priority area. They persuaded governments to pour millions into this area of research. Between them taxpayers and large corporations have staked billions on biotech research, which is why scientists are so keen to promote it.
What the world urgently needs is research into biodiverse, carbon-capturing, healthy food-producing agriculture. But the corporations won’t fund it because there’s not likely to be a lucrative product for them to sell at the end of it. And governments won’t fund it because they’ve been conned by corporate science into believing the only productive form of farming is the high-input variety.
It isn’t, but until the politicians, science and the media begin to seriously scrutinise the corporate view nothing much is going to change. The rest of us will have to put up with a more polluted planet and a less secure food supply than we need have done.* If Rothamsted scientists are interested in finding out more about sustainable forms of farming I’d be happy to lodge a few copies of The Carbon Fields with the institute’s library.
"With all the mayhem over the banking crisis, no one much noticed the closure of a small, farm dairy in Hampshire. Except, that is for the hundreds of local families who thought their neighbourhood milk the best they’d ever tasted. For them the demise of Daisy’s Dairy was little short of a disaster.
Now there’s news that this pioneering dairy may re-open under community ownership. It could provide a blue-print for bringing fresh, healthy, local milk back to neighbourhoods all over the country.
Before the set-back few who tasted Daisy’s milk ever wanted to go back to the supermarket version. They found it far fresher and more flavoursome than any shop-bought milk – better, too, than the milk delivered by big dairy companies. James and Helen Hague, who ran the enterprise from their small farm at Rotherwick, near Hook, pulled out all the stops to produce healthy milk and get it onto the doorsteps of local families in double quick time."