Posted 6th Sep 2016
To celebrate the release of Grass-Fed Nation: Getting back the food we deserve, we've spoken to Graham Harvey, agricultural advisor from BBC Radio 4's The Archers, who tells us a bit about the book.
It is a recent trend for us to be told that traditional foods are unhealthy due to their saturated fat content. This has led to a diet of mainly grain-fed meats and dairy products. In a two part feature we talk to Graham and his case study, farmer Tim May. In part one Graham tells us the inspiration behind Grass-Fed Nation, what motivated the campaign, and the impact Brexit could have on farming.
1. What was the inspiration behind Grass-Fed Nation?
After many years writing about food, farming and the countryside I realised there was one simple step we could all take that would benefit all of them. It’s for those of us who eat red meat or dairy foods to make sure they come from cattle and sheep grazing pasture and not fed grain, as many of today’s livestock are. For us there are many health benefits from grass-fed foods. And when farmers produce them there are huge benefits for wildlife, village communities, farm profits and climate change. The only people worse off would be the manufacturers of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. So it’s a no-brainer.
2. Tell us a bit about Wild and Beautiful - how do you hope to persuade people to use buy natural farming produce?
Wild and Beautiful will aim to make the connection between the food choices we make and the health and beauty of our countryside. In recent years our countryside is polluted and suffering a catastrophic loss of wildlife. At the same time the nutrient quality of our food has suffered. If farmers were encouraged to produce good food rather than cheap food we would be healthier and our countryside would come alive.
3. What inspired you to get behind natural farming?
I realised as a farming journalist many years ago that seeing farms as factories would lead to disaster. We have a farming systems that relies on dowsing our food and farm crops with toxic chemicals. As a result our soils are being destroyed and our foods are contaminated. If we switched to methods that work with nature instead of waging war on her we’d have better, affordable food and a more beautiful, biodiverse countryside.
4. What direction do you see farming taking in the future?
Farming will have to revert to natural methods. A growing number of the world’s scientists are now urging this. It’s not a question of if but when. The longer we delay changing our damaging industrial farming methods, the more damage we will do to our countryside, our wildlife and ourselves.
5. Can you see Brexit having any impact on farming?
Brexit gives us a fantastic opportunity to change for the better the way we produce our food. We are no longer bound by the EU farming policy. Sadly there’s no sign that UK politicians realise the need for reform of rural policies. The danger is they’ll go on doing the same – or worse. So if we care about the countryside we have to speak up now.