Guy’s news: The proof is in the Rt Honourable’s pudding

It is hard to understand the inhumanity or moral blindness that made 19th century slavery acceptable, but it makes the courage and mental fortitude of those who spoke out all the more admirable. Future generations will surely place our abuse of the environment they will inherit top of their own list of retrospective shame. The generous might cite our inability to find the mechanisms to act collectively in the face of pervasive global capitalism; the angry might say we were just too selfish and busy feeding our appetites to consider those who share our planet now and in years to come.

After an inexplicable two-year delay, our government published its 25 Year Environment Plan last week. I read most of its 150 pages expecting, perhaps even trying, to be cynical, but I reckon it covers most of what it should and reaches most of the right conclusions. It is surprisingly broad thinking in appreciating the hard-to-measure contributions of the environment (eg. to mental health and community) and includes as many firm commitments and as few crowd pleasers as one could hope. Of course, the challenge will be financing all that tree planting, actually getting the packaging industry to rationalise its use of plastic, and standing up to lobbying from wealthy landowners and the agro-chemical industry. The plan falls down in that it includes little meaningful commitment to reducing pesticide use and no mention of the environmental contributions of organic farming (though it advocates much of what we do). And will we support our farmers with their higher standards when faced with US trade negotiations? I do worry about the ability of liberal, market-orientated democracy to turn these aspirations into long-term legislation, rather than short-term vote-winning publicity stunts. However, it feels like an honest appreciation of the magnitude and importance of the problems we face, and is a significant step towards addressing them.

Closer to home, you can add a free sunflower birdfeeder (grown on our French farm) to your order this week. As the Defra report says, farming is about more than just feeding ourselves; I enjoy growing them, a few more birds may make it through winter, and watching their colourful acrobatics may even contribute to our mental health.

Guy Singh-Watson

13 responses to “Guy’s news: The proof is in the Rt Honourable’s pudding

  1. Excellent, saves me reading it!

  2. Very good to see this overview, should try to read all if weather keeps me inside.
    Your last blog on sunflowers marked another packet of seed for this year – any flowers that I grow must feed something and not just be a pretty face.
    Sorry I don’t buy from you but have dealt with local Farmbox for ages.

    I don’t like the latest Bird Flu advice from Defra to stop feeding wild birds -it
    would be useless for me to obey that as I have many that roost,feed and nest
    around the walls. They will not be denied their cold weather extras
    best wishes,
    Milly

  3. I despair of the blindness of this Government. Whilst I realise they are trying (very!) to do something about environmental concerns, they don’t seem to have a clue.
    While on the subject of the environment I shared the Riverford Facebook pages with my FB friends and got a strange response to the effect that you allow hunting on your land. Whilst I can appreciate the need to keep down rabbits I cannot see Organic Vegetable farmers welcoming Horses, hounds and the like to trample the crops, and I am hoping you can reassure me (and the friend), on this.

  4. Oh excellent Guy very very brilliant rant

  5. I’m 56, nigh 57, Labour, Corbyn.
    I’m cynical, nay realistic, when it comes to governments, especially Tories, and the environment.
    The environment, and animals, don’t have votes, nor brass.
    Sadly, most folks don’t care beyond their own narrow blinkered lifes.
    I don’t expect much change.
    I stand my corner, fortunately Riverford and a few others (ecotricity, natural collection, wwf, rspb, foe, waitrose, greenpeace) stand theirs.

  6. Kimberley Reeman

    I’d like to know when Riverford intends to stop using so much plastic. I despair sometimes.

  7. First Riverford box this week, part of our plastic free New Years resolution. Three plastic bags and lots of unnecessary packaging! NO NEED
    I support your philosophy, please support your own.

    • they did a thing recently about that Lucy, they lookedinto it very carefully and surprisingly some of the packaging is more environmentally friendly to be plastic. I think he blogged about it.

      They are making enormous efforts. but the meat, yeah that has lots of plastic but you send it all back and they reuse what they can and recycle what they can’t. Most veg and fruit comes in paper bags.

  8. I work in the oil and gas industry. In order to get necessary permissions to develop an oil field we now have to produce a plan as to how to remove, reuse and/or recycle the facilities proposed to be installed. I believe that the same principle should be extended to all products. I.e. all producers of goods should be required to produce a plan showing how to recycle the goods and their packaging. This would stop the use of materials that can’t be recycled and force the producers to change their processes and designs to prevent further “Pringle tubes”.

  9. On the use of plastics there are quite a few corn starched and potato starched containers in the market place. The more they are used by everyone the sooner the price will come down and more people in society will be able to afford them! fewer oil based ones! If we can afford to buy organic -majority in our society cannot = those out of work on benefits and the homeless who actually use carrier bags in winter to keep themselves warm!! – the sooner the rest of society can join us privileged folk here.

  10. “It is hard to understand the inhumanity or moral blindness that made 19th century slavery acceptable,”
    Only the 19th century slavery was bad? How about the slavery before that re: the barbary states, arabia, and even african tribes enslaving each other?

    Slavery is evil full stop, but it wasn’t invented in the 19th century at all, it’s been part of human history since ancient Sumeria.

    Misguided virtue signaling aside, I do actually agree re: what future generations will think of our destruction of the environment. Hopefully the growth of the organic industry will mean in the future kids will be virtue signaling about those nasty chemical corporations that once poisoned the countrysides and farmlands and rivers

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