"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The future of agriculture

The other night I watched a television programme about families who have chosen to live simple lives off the land. The first in the series follows a couple who want to swop an executive lifestyle for a "better life," farming sheep on a tiny scale on Dartmoor. This was sympathetically narrated by Monty Don, who has a wealth of farming experience behind him over 40 years. Mmmm. I wish them all the best but suspect it will be very tough for them. ("My Dream Farm, Channel 4 21 January 2010).

At the same time on BBC2 there was Jimmy's Global Harvest, where Jimmy Doherty followed a tomato "farmer" in California, and it scared me stiff! The sheer enormity of the scale of the operation, almost totally mechanised, no sign of a weed or a bird or animal, no hedgerow, no butterflies, and most importantly, no biodiversity, in fact all about profit and nothing else. Even the tomatoes are especially bred with thick skins and dense flesh to withstand the picking machines, great beasts that swallowed up and sorted everything in their path. But what frightened me most though was the dismissive way the "farmer" referred to the "dirt" that must not be allowed to contaminate the crop. That "dirt" is soil, the lifeblood of our very existence on this planet, from which all our food ultimately derives. We should show it great respect. Its structure, mineral content, humus content, water holding capacity, simply how available it is to plants for their needs, all this is so fundamentally important. And he called it "dirt!" Oh dear - is this really our future? I cannot see a future if this is what we will all depend upon for our food needs!

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