Riverford Wicked Leeks

who's lovin' it?

Monday 10th May 2010

Every year I take my family to camp on the cliffs near Start Point. The scenery here is dramatic but farming the thin, stony soil in small fields is labour intensive. This land will never yield the returns of large-scale prairie grain farming, or intensive feedlot production, in countries where there is no concern for animal welfare, visual amenity, the environment or social provision.

In previous years there have been sheep grazing amongst the tents, so valuable has been the forage. This year the grass is long and the sheep turds dry. Who needs grass when the beef and lamb can be produced far more cheaply the other side of the globe? While our beef comes from feedlots in Brazil and the USA, traded on world markets as a commodity before being ground, mixed and blended in to McLibel burgers, our Devon pastures are growing thistles, docks and stinging nettles. For the first time in my lifetime there are not enough cows and sheep in Devon to maintain the land. The recent Single Farm Payment reforms are already starting to bite, as there is little incentive for farmers to look after their fields to insure they grow grass rather than weeds next year.

All experience suggests that large scale, globally traded farming with no connection to the consumer, inevitably leads to abuse of animals, the environment and people while incrementally degrading the quality of our food. There is no political will to resist the onslaught of USA controlled, WTO championed, hegemony of market forces and the resulting blind march to a global market. The only hope is that the public will be more interested and discerning in their food purchases; which almost brings me back to veg-boxes, but I am out of space.

After years of telling us