This is a pretty broad topic, so I’ll start narrowing it down immediately. We’re at a crossroads with farming and Brexit, with our politicians on the verge of deciding the future of our countryside, farming and food production. We have all read the headlines about free trade with America and chlorinated chicken, but the wider discussion is about whether we import meat that has been industrially farmed. UK farmers would then have to compete with cheap imports that do not have our welfare standards. Advocates would argue that cheaper food would benefit society, but with 20% (and rising) of the NHS budget spent on food related disease, this is extremely short sighted on a number of levels.
As a well-informed customer recently told me:
We are in a very precarious situation … it could be disastrous or utterly transformative in a positive way for an alternative agricultural movement.
The alternative is to redirect our efforts towards the local food supply chain with the environment at the heart of agriculture. We need to reconnect consumers with their food so they can access, cook and enjoy local, seasonal food that is healthier, safer and supports our local farmers. With the likely end of EU subsidies, farmers will need government support to bring about this transition and it’s crucial that this is for the benefit of the environment. The RSA have just brought out a report ‘Our Future in the Land‘ that “sets out radical and practical ways for policymakers, business and communities to respond to the challenges.” and you can watch Michael Gove’s positive respone to it here.
On a more local level, teaching children the basics of food; how it is grown, where it comes from and how to cook it, is crucial for our local food economy, farming and health. You can read more on the Big Barn website in an article that echoes our sentiments.
As environmental concerns grow, from global warming to plastic use, this is the time to make a difference. By changing UK farming towards a positive, local, sustainable future, the UK can make a huge collective difference to the environment. We’ll try and keep you posted on what action you can take, but a message to your local MP would be a good start.