Last week I had an addition to my regular veg box – a magazine by the amusing name of “WickedLeeks”. It seems this is something I have been missing in my Riverford experience, as it turns out they have quite an active website. https://wickedleeks.riverford.co.uk/ I was very pleasantly surprised by the content, which I found far more interesting to read than my regular BMJ and BJGP medical journals. (Particularly at the moment when one cannot escape “covid this and covid that on every page”) One article in particular caught my eye, and I thought was worth writing about.
The article is called “Ecological Farming Can Feed UK if Diets Change”. – Not the catchiest title, but the picture of walnuts at the top caught my eye. – It is about a recent report commissioned by the FFC (Food and Forestry Commission) in which the question being looked at was “is it possible to feed the UK through agroecological practices?” and fantastically they have found that the answer is Yes. In fact they have apparently shown that a decrease of 38% carbon output would occur almost as a by product of using a model that has numerous other benefits:
If we were to switch to the model suggested we would end up with:
- increased biodiversity
- increased soil health
- increased tree coverage
- increased self-sufficiency of the country
- decreased pesticide use
- decreased food miles
- decreased processed foods and refined sugars in our diet
In order to achieve this we need to switch as a nation from a diet based on pork, chicken, grains and refined carbohydrates to a diet high in nuts, vegetables, “home grown” eggs (of course giving us occassional chicken meat from what is called “spent hen”) and a reasonable (but not high) quantity of meat (and hopefully dairy) from non-intensive naturally grazed, calf-at-foot ruminants (cows and sheep), whose grazing will help increase soil fertility and biodiversity. To me this seems like there is a possibility of “More of All good things” – rather than a trade off, one good thing for another. That’s really exciting!!!
When I read about the changes needed in the UK to make this work I thought “that’s my diet” .. which was a pleasant surprise, as I’m always worried my bi-weekly, much enjoyed, joint of beef is killing the planet. It is a diet I’ve pretty much been on for the last 10 years, and as such I can say with quite a lot of conviction that it’s a good one. I won’t say it will be a miracle diet, or even that everyone will find it easy to change, but I want to encourage you to try it. … Personally since switching from grain based to more nut based diet, and since I have “Cut the CRAP” (Colourless, Refined, Artificial, Processed) foods I have more energy, I sleep better, I have less pain in my back, I no longer get frequent reflux or IBS symptoms, I have lost weight, I have better skin, my nails and hair are super-healthy.
The down side at the moment is it’s really expensive and a lot of the nuts I eat come from abroad. …. But they don’t need to, and if we grew them in the UK we’d have these gorgeous trees lining our streets, gardens, parks etc too. In fact I looked up nut trees native to the UK and there are 5 – Hazel (some versions of the nuts are called cobnuts, who knew they were the same?), walnut, sweet chestnut, beech and oak ( I did not know acorns were human-edible!). How amazing would that be. .. and it really does make me wonder why we clear trees to make space for grains!
I really hope this commissioned study is taken notice of and it’s plans and ideas are put into action. I dream of a food-based utopia in the UK – and if we do this properly maybe we’ll be heading in the right direction, and surely that is worth making some changes for.