Posts Tagged ‘support organic farming’

Carvelo farming.jpgThe following is a manifesto from the Soil Association that seeks to make government recognise the importance of prioritising the way we farm and the huge impact it has on public health, the enironment, animal wealthfare and the health of our soils. Send it to your MP, please repost so that more people are aware of the work of the Soil Association.

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From: Helen Browning Chief Executive  http://www.soilassociation.org

The Soil Association calls on all parties to give food and farming a higher priority than ever in their manifestos. As the UK prepares to leave the EU, the next Government will have an opportunity to produce an agricultural policy for the first time in decades. This must fully recognise the importance of food and farming to public health, our environment, and the economy. 

We urge all political parties to put climate change, public health, soil protection and farm animal welfare at the centre of their food and farming vision – and to adopt the following seven policies in their 2017 manifestos. Stronger working across departments and with devolved administrations, and better resourcing of DEFRA, is also essential.

Our recommendations cover food production (farming and land use) and consumption (public health and diets). We would be very pleased to provide further information on anything contained in this document.  Some of these proposals build on a recent Soil Association report on post-CAP priorities.

  1. Invest in healthy soils – though soil stewardship payments, mandatory soil testing, incentives for more grass and clover, and agroforestry

The fundamental importance of soil health to farm productivity, food security, climate change and public health has been neglected for far too long. Protecting and restoring soil health needs to be at the very heart of agricultural policy. Current global and national soil health commitments provide a starting point but must be urgently accompanied by funding and delivery. Soil stewardship payments would incentivise farmers to increase the organic matter in the soil – including through existing farm assurance schemes such as organic and LEAF. A new well-maintained national soil database should be created with regular soil organic matter monitoring and reporting by farmers. Investment in soil health research, data collection and monitoring should be a priority.

  1. Zero carbon farming by 2050 – a commitment to ensuring the agriculture and food sector plays its part in tackling climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement

The next Government should adopt a bold approach to cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the food and farming sector, seeking to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  It should accept the advice of the Committee on Climate Change for a stronger policy framework for agriculture emissions reductions, both to 2022, as current progress is not on track, and after 2022 – moving beyond the current voluntary approach of providing information and advice. This should include a new agroforestry strategy, alongside more forest and woodland establishment on marginal land.  Livestock emissions must be tackled -including through the encouragement of dietary change. All trade deals must be designed to be fully compatible with the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

  1. Funding for farmer-led research – allocate 10% of the current R&D budget for innovative agriculture projects led by farmers themselves

The success of UK agriculture post-Brexit will depend on innovation by farmers. The UK spends around £450 million a year on agricultural research and innovation yet only a fraction of this goes to practical projects led by farmers. The next Government should announce a dedicated farmer innovation fund with a budget of at least 10% of the UK’s public agricultural research and development budget. This should be accompanied by innovation support services to help farmers apply and make the most of new funds, building on experience from other countries of doing this through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-Agri), and of home-grown initiatives such as Innovative Farmers. The next Government should reward practical research by incentivising individual researchers and institutions to pay more attention to the impact of their research, for example, through awards schemes for researchers working on farmer-led projects; training; and involvement of farmers and practitioners in reviewing research grant applications.

  1. Stronger support for organic farming – building on the current system to increase the amount of land farmed using organic methods to benefit the environment and improve animal welfare, and to meet growing consumer demand for organic food

The public benefits delivered by organic farming have been well documented by independent research over decades. They include more wildlife and biodiversity, healthier soils and carbon storage, flood protection, clean water, lower pesticide and antibiotic use, more jobs. Whilst only 3% of UK farmland is organic, in some other countries, it accounts for up to a fifth of production – setting new norms for policy, business and the public. The next Government needs to prioritise the expansion of organic farming as a central plank of agricultural policy. This should include maintaining, improving and expanding the organic conversion and maintenance payments, ensuring agricultural colleges offer more courses in organic and agroecological farming practices alongside new organic apprenticeships, and maintaining the legal basis for organic standards – ensuring ongoing alignment with the EU organic regulation.

  1. A ‘good life’ for all farm animals within 10 years – setting a new welfare framework for all farm animals supported by the mandatory method of production labelling, stronger regulation of farm antibiotic use, and public investment to help farmers make the transition.

The next Government should commit to all farm animals leading a ‘good life’ as defined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council – meaning that animals can exercise natural instincts and follow their urges to care, graze, root and play. Incentives and funding for investment in farm infrastructure should be provided to help livestock farmers make the transition and to ensure investment in extensive, low-input systems a more attractive option for investors. Extending mandatory method of production labelling to all meat and dairy, as proposed by Labelling Matters, would provide consumers with the information they deserve, level the playing field for higher welfare products and grow this important market – allowing more farmers to shift from volume to quality production. The next government must put animal welfare at the heart of policies to tackle the antibiotic crisis including a ban on the route preventative use of antibiotics and targets to cut farm antibiotic use as proposed by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics.  

  1. Invest in child health – commit to creating an environment where it is normal, easy and enjoyable for children and young people to eat well.

Last year the Health Select Committee called for ‘brave and bold’ action to improve the dietary health of UK children. The subsequent Obesity Plan included a set of actions that contribute towards this goal in England. The next Government should commit to fulfilling these actions, and to building on the Plan. It should also commit to ongoing investment in school meals, including free school meals for all infants, a policy proposed by the independent School Food Plan in 2014, which received cross-party support upon its publication. The next Government should make clear that it will not tolerate the younger generation growing up with the normality of regularly consuming unhealthy food, or having no concept of where their food comes from.

  1. Better public procurement – to widen public access to healthier, higher welfare, local and organic food and to build stable markets for farmers and growers.

 Significant programmes to improve the quality of food in the public sector, such as Government Buying Standards, Defra’s Balanced Scorecard and Food for Life Served Here, have demonstrated that public sector food standards can return substantial value to farmers and consumers. Such efforts deserve public support. The next Government should implement an ambitious procurement policy that requires use of Defra’s Balanced Scorecard across the public sector. All public procurement decisions should place a weighting of at least 60% on quality, with price not to exceed a 40% weighting. Caterers’ use of the Balanced Scorecard should be independently verified via schemes such as Food for Life Served Here. This would increase uptake of assurance schemes such as Red Tractor, LEAF, Marine Stewardship Council and organic, thereby delivering more sustainable food and farming and incentivising a ‘race to the top’, with benefits for consumers, as well as British farmers and food businesses.




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“Tackling Climate Change with Sustainable food systems”, is the Chatham House report on climate change, that has been created by The Royal Institute of Internal Affairs to persuade politicians to “Put Meat on the Climate Negotiating Table”.

Grass fed organically reared beef cattle - Duchy Farm

Grass fed organically reared beef cattle – Duchy Farm

There has been so much in the press over the years about climate change. Most of it has been warnings about carbon emissions from vehicles, homes and industry. Rarely does any of the coverage mention the importance of food and your diet.

I was invited by the Soil Association to attend the Square Meal debate at Westminster Hall, where farming and food production were discussed in some detail. I am taking some of the main points of the report and looking at it from a nutritional point of view.

Hopefully my approach will give you a clearer understanding of how  by buying into the main message which is to EAT LESS MEAT, you can help to reduce carbon emissions, and actually improve your health and the health of your family. Grass fed cattle are better for you and produce much less carbon emissions due to grazing rather than consuming intensely farmed non-organic GM crops that take enormous amount of resource and water to produce.

Grain fed cows use up more of the world's resources and account for much of the carbon emissions. They have less animal welfare and the meat can contain antibiotics and hormones.

Grain fed cows use up more of the world’s resources and account for much of the carbon emissions. They have less animal welfare and the meat can contain antibiotics and hormones.

We (the British people) have a target to reduce carbon emissions that was set in the Paris agreement in 2015 and agreed by all European Member Countries to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. That is only 14 years. It is a lot to achieve. But it is vital that we all stick to it as the aim is to stop the earth’s temperature rising by 2 degrees, which is the point of no return. There is another target that by 2050 the EU will have reduced carbon emission by 80-95%.
This could well be the main reason we stay in Europe. Forget all the other issues this dwarfs them all.

Why is the way we eat so important?

There are two very compelling interconnected reasons to change your diet:

  1. Your health and wellbeing – Your future
  2. Your planet’s health and wellbeing – Your future, your children’s and their   children’s future.

The debate “Square Meal” was chaired by Professor Tim Benton who is the “Champion” for the UK’s Global Food Security Programme. It was based around the vision of a group of contributors, using their expert knowledge, have come together to make recommendations on what they believe will make the biggest difference, facilitating the carbon reduction that the planet so desperately needs.

Contributors: Centre for Food Policy, Compassion in World Farming, Eating-Better.org, Food Ethics Council, Friends of the Earth, RSPB, Soil Association, Sustain, The Wildlife Trusts.

The speakers were: Laura Wellesley from Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs) Guy Watson (Organic Farmer) from Riverford Organics and Martin Nesbit from IEEP (Institute of European Environmental Policy)

Laura Wellesley from Chatham House laid out the report dealing with the specific area of agriculture and meat consumption. It does not make comfortable reading. I am not a big meat-eater, my diet consists mostly of plant-based foods, but even I will make personal changes to support this campaign.

In a nutshell this quote sums up the enormity of the situation we find ourselves in:

“The production and consumption of meat is a major driver of climate change. Already, the livestock sector contributes 15 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent to exhaust fumes from all the world’s vehicles. By 2050, global meat consumption is expected to rise by 75 per cent: even with ambitious mitigation to lower the emissions intensity of livestock production the world over, the increase in consumption will eat up a huge slice of the remaining carbon budget.

The upshot is that, without a significant reduction in global meat-eating, keeping global warming below two degrees will be nearly impossible. Tackling unsustainable meat consumption is therefore a necessity. It should also be seen as key opportunity for win-win policy-making.”

See more at: https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/it-s-time-put-meat-climate-negotiating-table#sthash.rFgNUuGB.dpuf

The report’s 5 main recommendations for each country are:

  1. Widen the scope of the current consultation on food and farming.
  2. Adopt a clear and robust set of principles for what constitutes healthy and sustainable diets.
  3. Fundamentally reform the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy)
  4. Effectively implement and enforce existing legislation on food, farming standards, water and environmental protection.
  5. Introduce better measurements of our resource use to recognise the importance of sustainable consumption and production.

Each of us can support this campaign by:

  1. Eating less Meat – buy smaller but better quality.
  2. Choosing sustainable and ethically produced animal products (Organic, Free ranged or grass-fed, non-GMO fed)
  3. Supporting local farmers / producers.

The MPs in the room became decidedly uncomfortable as they realised that this would not be an easy message to take to the British public because they say: 1. It is unfair to expect people, that can’t afford it, to change to a healthier diet, and 2. Farmers will lose out and not want to change.  The truth is:

  • The majority of people can afford to eat meat and I think it is empowering for people to know that they can easily do something to really help immediately by eating less.
  • Governments MUST support the organic farming system more and less support for those that use toxic chemicals.
  • Organic does not need the vast amounts of expensive phosphorus fertilisers – which are running out! (another time bomb) and ultimately it would be cheaper to farm organically if the playing field of government subsidies was level.

Why is eating less meat good for your health?

The meat story is a bit like the salt story. We need protein to survive, as we do salt, we would die without it. But now most people in the western world over consume it and just like excessive salt, it is bad for your health. But unlike salt, over consuming meat is bad for the planet!

We need “adequate” amounts of protein to be healthy, and that protein needs to contain all the essential amino acids. for every tissue and cell in our body. It is so vital for our immune function, our energy and our well-being in so many ways. It is why being a nutritionally educated Vegetarian or Vegan is so important.

What is “enough” protein?

If you work your weight out in kilos, as a general rule 0.8g per kilo is around what you need

to consume a day. Example: 75 kilo person needs between 45g-60g of depending on how physically active they are and what their muscle ratio is. A 3oz serving of meat or seafood is 20-28g this is smaller than you may think – equivalent to a small deck of cards.

Pulses (cooked) contain around 8g protein per cup. Eggs 6-8g depending on size and nuts and seeds around 4g-8g depending on type. Vegetables and whole grains also contain protein, so over the day you can see that eating moderate portions will supply plenty of protein for the average person. Pregnant women and athletes need more protein than the average person.

Animal versus Plant protein – what are the pro and cons?

Animal Protein:


  • Contains all essential amino acids (building blocks of all our tissues and cells)
  • Easier for the body to use (more bioavailable)
  • Contains Co Enzyme 10 – Vital for our energy pathways in muscle tissue, protects the heart.
  • Red meat high in iron and other minerals.
  • The main source of B12 – absolutely vital for health.
  • More bioavailable than plant protein so easier for the body to use.


  • When over eaten it is acid forming so creates acidic blood – robbing your bones of minerals to alkalise the blood and weakening them.
  • Overeating meat in one meal causes undigested protein into the intestines, as this sits there it releases toxins that are detrimental to all aspects of health. (there is only so much stomach acid, and this is not enough to digest large amounts of animal protein in one go)
  • If the ecology of good bacteria is out of balance (this is true in many people due to Western diet and antibiotics) the meat is poorly digested in the gut, causing sluggish digestion and a toxic environment – especially as we age.


Plant Protein

Quinoa & Chickpea salad small


  • Contains protein in different levels. Some are higher certain amino acids, so these can be used to affect imbalances.
  • Contains “phytonutrients” – such as polyphenols, Indole 3 carbinole, Flavonoids, Carotenoids, Lignans, Isoflavonoids, Curcuminoids, Tanins, Chlorophylls, beta-glucans. These are some of the most health-promoting things you can eat.
  • Contains two types of fibre – cellulose being the one that feeds our “Good” bacteria and helps produces vital nutrients. Soluble fibre that binds to toxins and helps remove them from the body.
  • Contain many minerals and vitamins vital to optimal health and protection against disease and chronic health issues.
  • Contains enzymes to help break food down. 


  • Less easily digested and utilised by the body
  • In general, does not contain all the essential amino acids in one food and needs to be carefully combined.
  • If not organically grown may lack nutrients and cause deficiencies.
  • High in phytic acid which binds to minerals and can block calcium in large amounts (phytase digestive enzyme neutralises the affect) phytic acid is cancer protective though.

What is “excess” protein?

Many servings of meat can be 7-12oz that would be 60g-120g of protein in one meal! Other protein eaten during the day can be: Eggs on their own and in other foods. Cheese, milk and yoghurt, ice cream and other deserts. Cold meats, pastes and fillings, grains, vegetables and pulses. That could quite easily add up to 100-200g of protein, depending on portion.

58% of people eat out at least once a week, and spend more money eating out than they do on groceries. Eating out normally means a starter that can be a meat portion, then a main meat portion, and then a dairy protein portion as a dessert.

On average the Western diet has from 3 to 5 times more protein than is needed for health, and the developing countries are catching up. Countries that were predominantly vegetarian are eating more and more poor quality meat and dairy.Meat image

What are the physical effects in the body of over consumption of animal protein?

Excess protein converts to sugar then fat.
The process of breaking the protein down creates nitrogen waste which must be removed from the body and excess protein consumption stresses the kidneys. This causes systemic dehydration and can eventually can cause kidney damage and even gout, an arthritic condition caused by excess uric acid in the blood.

Over eating meat and dairy can trigger immune conditions like eczema and asthma, arthritis and other chronic conditions – especially animal products that have been reared on GM grain and soya in cramped conditions and treated with hormones and antibiotics. If you know you eat more than “adequate” and you suffer from any of these conditions, try eating less meat and dairy – you may be surprised at the difference.

The excess phosphorus in the protein triggers the body to have to rebalance minerals therefore leaching calcium from bones, which weakens them.

Consuming excessive protein stimulates a pathway called mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) Decreased mTOR activity in the body promotes health and can increase life span as well as protect against cancer and disease. Consuming more protein than the body needs stimulates mTOR and increases the risk of disease and cancer as well as speeding up the aging process.

Short fasting diets that are devoid of all protein can inhibit mTOR and regularly done can increase health and wellbeing. Choosing to eat much less meat will also promote this.

Eating less but higher quality meat, should not mean spending more. Or if it does you are supporting a system that is good for animals, the planet and your future health.

Eating more healthily (less meat) would actually mean spending less on food.  Even if people do not want to buy organic – you can still eat more healthily by choosing less meat and more vegetables. More Non GM pulses and whole grains – therefore more nutrients, more fibre.

Higher quality meat will is less toxic and more nutritious due to eating grass or more natural foods.

Mass produced animals might not see the light of day and they will be fed grains like Maize and Soya which is not their natural diet. These feeds are intensely farmed and the use of pesticides and fertilizer is having such a profoundly toxic effect on the environment via the soil and the plant. Insects, bees, butterflies and birds are simply dying off due to poisoning by farmers and gardeners! it is not sustainable – the ecosystem is in dire need of rebalancing. There is only one answer whether we like it or not and that is to change the way the land is farmed and to change the way we eat.

So by reducing your meat intake, eating higher quality, grass-fed, organic animal product in smaller affordable amounts – you will be doing something to support your health, animal welfare and support the health of the environment.

And very importantly will send a message that you are no longer willing to support products that damage your health and the environment.

Why is Organic better for the planet?Earth

Organic farming means not buying mountains of chemical fertiliser or toxic seeds from Monsanto. Organic farming fixes nitrate in the soil and allows more CO2 to be absorbed. Organic farming doesn’t use the pesticides that destroy the bees, insects and the bird’s food and habitat.


Why is Organic better for you and your family?

  • More beneficial nutrients – more Vitamins and minerals
  • More plant antioxidants that protect against disease.
  • Much less nitrogen content, and 87% lower nitrite content which is linked to some cancers – caused by using non-organic fertilisers
  • Supports natural farming and the surrounding environment.
  • Less pesticides and harmful heavy metals for consumption
  • More protective of wildlife and the environment.
  • Better animal welfare.
  • Protects the soil.

Find out more: http://www.soilassociation.org/whatisorganic

Why are there not more organic farms?

Organic farming  accounts for just 2% of the market, which means that mass production of grains and animals is 98% – it’s VAST and it has to change.

Farmers are opting out of organic due to:

  • Complicated and expensive organic certification –needs to be simplified and less expensive.
    Organic Animal feed is much more expensive than poorer quality feed – so needs to be passed onto consumer.
  • Very few “champions” in government and industry to lead the way.

Government and consumers can support organic farming by:

  • Government grants for the organic certification process and maintenance.
  • More subsidies for organic farming.
  • Consumers making better choices at the point of purchase

Organic, and/or grass-fed.

  • Public demand for organic or grass-fed animals when dining out.
  • The more demand for organic – the cheaper it will become.

Change will happen for the better or the worse, nothing stands still.

The top two actions to take are:

“Eat Less Meat and Choose Better Quality”

The brilliant thing about it is you can start immediately to make a difference.

Become a member of the Soil association: http://www.soilassociation.org/becomeamember

Starting at £3.50 per month or a Soil Friend member for £10 a month.

Fundraising: http://www.soilassociation.org/supportourwork/fundraiseforus

Find out more:


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