Rooting for Real Farms Series
After a dire experience visiting a factory pig farm in Italy, Clodagh McKenna decided to only cook with high welfare meat from then on. “We all have ideals of the kind of person we want to be and I think every single one of us wants to be somebody that is making a little bit of a difference in this world“, she says in our latest Rooting for Real Farms video. So, using the power of her purse, the acclaimed chef and author of numerous cookbooks, is helping to close factory farms by only buying meat from high welfare British farms like Helen Wade’s Eastleach Downs Organic Farm. Helen rears rare-breed saddleback pigs that are sold from their on-farm butchery. She says, “For me the welfare of the animal is the most important thing, pigs are very intelligent creatures and they should have the best possible life we can give them.”
I am finding it incredibly difficult to focus on our precious farmers when the headlines are dominated by war. The UK is directly involved not least by upgrading its US air bases to enable Washington to intercept international communications and launch military strikes from Britain more quickly and with more devastating effect.
In 2014 I was filming vast pig factories owned by the Danish company Danosha in Western Ukraine, as well as Ukrainian owned factory pig farms in the East. We left a few weeks before all hell broke out as the US backed coup d’etat replaced the Russian backed elected leader with an unelected leader answerable to the US.
Naturally, like all sane people, I absolutely abhor war, it is horrifying from any quarter. I abhor censorship too; how can peoples of the world come together in peace when so much is hidden?
Censorship of the whole story
Last weekend, I met a very prosperous man in his 80s who confessed that he was interested to know the Russian side of the war story with the caveat that he might not believe a word he read. I was impressed that he had even an inkling that the mainstream media are only telling half truths, just as they did to justify our authorities’ invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
In my humble opinion, the truth resides in a fringe niche of journalists who have been banished from the UK’s mainstream media but who continue to provide us with an independent narrative. A pool of these brave truthsayers can be found on the Dont Extradite Assange website.
Silenced by fear of reprisals
In this new world of surveillance, you are not safe to hold an opinion counter to your authorities. In some countries you can be punished for speaking out. The Czech Republic has warned Czech citizens that they can be imprisoned for agreeing with the Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and for not speaking out the conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, was fired for privately refusing to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.
Whether it is fear of a virus or fear of Russia, we have successfully been polarised into our opposite silos. So it is with some trepidation that I share the info that I sent to the gent about Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, its causes, its aims, and its likely aftermath.
Jimmy Dore Show (976K subscribers);
‘Jimmy and The Grayzone’s Aaron Maté, discuss the lies and misrepresentations surrounding the leadup to the war in Ukraine.The media description of the Russian attack on Ukraine has almost universally elided and whitewashed the role played by the US and its NATO allies, including supporting a coup overthrowing the democratically elected president in 2014, refusing to support the Minsk Accords or refusing to engage in negotiations in the months leading up to the Russian invasion.’
Jimmy Dore ‘Ukraine Conflict Centered Around Gas Pipeline – Of Course!’
Consortium News; discuss; Russia Hits Back ;
‘After 30 years of NATO expansion towards its borders, and eight-years of a coup regime’s attacks on ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Russia has taken military action to “demilitarize” and “de-nazify” the country.’
and 4 articles;
Scott Ritter says the Russian president is working from a 2007 playbook, when he warned European leaders of the need for a new security framework to replace the system built by the U.S. and NATO.
Ukraine update – 04/03/22
Caitlin Johnstone: 12 Thoughts on Ukraine
‘The U.S. power alliance has a choice between escalating aggressions against Russia to world-threatening levels or doing what anti-imperialists have been begging them to do for years and pursue detente.’
Diana Johnstone: former press secretary of the Green Group in the European Parliament from 1989 to 1996.
US Foreign Policy Is a Cruel Sport
‘……today, a version of bear baiting is being practised every day against whole nations on a gigantic international scale. It is called United States foreign policy. It has become the regular practice of the absurd international sports club called NATO.’
‘‘….And from the start, Washington strategies, in cahoots with a large, hyperactive anti-communist anti-Russian diaspora in the U.S. and Canada, contrived to use the bitterness of Ukraine’s divisions to weaken first the U.S.S.R. and then Russia. Billions of dollars were invested in order to “strengthen democracy” – meaning the pro-Western west of Ukraine against its semi-Russian east.
The 2014 U.S.-backed coup that overthrew President Viktor Yukanovych, solidly supported by the east of the country, brought to power pro-West forces determined to bring Ukraine into NATO, whose designation of Russia as prime enemy had become ever more blatant. This caused the prospect of an eventual NATO capture of Russia’s major naval base at Sebastopol, on the Crimean peninsula.’
‘Meanwhile, major parties in the Russian Duma and public opinion have long expressed concern for the Russian-speaking population of the eastern provinces, suffering from privations and military attack from the central government for eight years. This concern is naturally interpreted in the West as a remake of Hitler’s drive to conquer neighbouring countries. However, as usual the inevitable Hitler analogy is baseless. For one thing, Russia is too large to need to conquer Lebensraum.’
‘the work in the laboratories is carried out under the program of biological experiments. The budget is $2.1 billion and is funded by the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency.’
Sanctions cause pain and relief
The present tranche of sanctions against Russia imposed by the European Union, the US, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia, Taiwan and Japan will continue the pain caused by numerous earlier sanctions. However, as reported in Newsweek Russia’s Ambassador to Sweden said;
“Excuse my language, but we don’t give a shit about all their sanctions,” Viktor Tatarintsev told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in an interview published on Saturday.
“We have already had so many sanctions and in that sense they’ve had a positive effect on our economy and agriculture,” the diplomat said, according to the AFP news agency.
‘We are more self-sufficient and have been able to increase our exports. We have no Italian or Swiss cheeses, but we’ve learned to make just as good Russian cheeses using Italian and Swiss recipes’.
Russian rural kids adopt American junk food
While visiting Russia when Yeltsin was President in the 90s, clicking our cameras to capture the beautiful wooden homes in a tiny village deep in the countryside, a Russian housewife shouted “go away you horrible Americans’. She explained that their children used to drink their home grown apple juice and now, thanks to TV adverts and billboards, only Coca-Cola would do.
Putin pushes for local organic produce
The embargo on importing European foodstuffs, imposed by Russia in 2014, acted as an incentive for domestic production. No less than 95 percent of organic food was previously sourced from imports. So, the present sanctions imposed on food imports to Russia, might even help Putin achieve his 2015 commitment to meet his country’s demand for a local, organic, GMO free diet, as they will no longer be out competed by imports of cheap junk food doused in chemicals derived from dangerous GMO seeds. As such the sanctions could potentially help Russia fulfil its pledge to be the world’s largest producer and supplier of organic food.
In addition, it will strengthen the 2018 law which came into effect in 2020 setting out a new food strategy around organic produce.
‘The Law is designed to regulate relations in the field of production of organic food, to protect agricultural producers, who produce organic products and to attract new producers into this sphere.’
Putin is also giving land away to repopulate former farming land in Eastern Russia near the Japanese border. Plenty of young aspiring UK farmers and growers would love to have some land to build a home and grow food.
Legalising GMOs in the UK
While GMOs have been banned in Russia since 2016, Boris Johnson’s government has abandoned the EU’s precautionary principle that restricts their use, and is presently pushing to legalise this highly controversial technology.
“The clear consensus of 88% of British citizens who responded to the consultation was ‘no to deregulation’. Nevertheless the government has ignored public opinion and announced its plans to deregulate gene editing and, in the longer term plans to deregulate all genetically modified organisms used in agriculture.”
Based on events from a 1998 lawsuit, the film PERCY Vs GOLIATH, follows 70-year old small-town farmer Percy Schmeiser who challenges the agro-chemical conglomerate Monsanto that sued him for damages when their genetically modified (GMO) canola seeds were blown by the wind from a neighbour’s farm onto his land. As he defends himself against the Monsanto’s corrupt lawsuit, he realises he is representing thousands of other disenfranchised farmers around the world who are being sued because of GM seeds unintentionally and unavoidably spreading onto their fields from neighbouring farms. Suddenly, he becomes an unsuspecting folk hero in a desperate war to protect farmers’ rights and the world’s food supply against corporate greed.
Strange that with one hand the Tories are pushing for GMO’s, banned in organic agriculture, and with the other giving more generous subsidies to organic farmers. As reported in Wickedleeks;
‘Payments for organic farming are rising by between 46 and 500 per cent under a new Countryside Stewardship scheme. The new payments will be available until at least 2024 when a new organic standard is promised as part of the wider plan for how farmers will be supported by the government post-Brexit.’
It coincides with news that the organic food market continues to out-perform sales of non organic food, with sales rising by 5.2 per cent in the last year, helped by shopper interest in ethics, the environment and health during the pandemic.
Even the UK could benefit from sanctions against Russia’s food imports
Sanctions against Russia and Belarus will have a massive impact on UK’s conventionally grown food and farming as fertiliser imports sourced from Belarus will dry up along with cheap wheat from Ukraine. Therefore, food prices, now inflated to their highest in more than a decade due to pandemic-related supply constraints, are likely to rise even further.
However, if we look at the long term, sanctions may help our farmers get a fairer price for their home grown wheat and, by increasing the cost of fertiliser across the world, the use of this ecologically damaging and expensive input will be reduced.
‘Farmers from England and Wales gathered in Birmingham on Tuesday, against the backdrop of huge upheaval in agriculture, with labour shortages caused by Brexit and Covid, an ongoing pig cull and the transition to life beyond the EU’s subsidy scheme. The day opened with a blistering attack on ministers from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president, Minette Batters, who accused the government of having no post-Brexit plan and of showing a “total lack of understanding of how food production works.” Her views were echoed by farmers speaking from the floor of the conference.’
Only when we break up the corporate farms and pay independent farmers a fair price for their produce, will we prevent their decline and get UK farm workers back on the land to produce healthy food. Farmers would then be free to earn a livelihood while protecting the soil and biodiversity and raise livestock that do not need antibiotics to keep them alive, in sheds that have become a breeding ground of disease. Far better than going vegan and filling up on lab meat or highly processed plant based meat, is to eat less but better real meat from pasture fed animals sourced locally or online from the Real Food Hub.
There is a window of hope in the government’s White Paper, usually a precursor to new legislation, due to be published at the end of March that will respond to the (June 2021) National Food Strategy. More than 100 organisations that include major supermarkets and food retailers including TESCO, Sainsburys, Co-op, Aldi and M&S, have joined forces with civil society groups, health campaigners and academics in calling for bold food legislation in the UK Government’s response to the National Food Strategy.’
The “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to fix nation’s broken food system is massive; As described by Kath Dalmeny chief executive of Sustain;
“……..Councils, academics, health charities and consumers are all signalling that the Government needs to act. Businesses say they need a level playing field to prevent being held back by a system that is skewed in favour of junk food. We need the Government to be bold, to take action and put laws in place that help tackle the systemic problems in our food system.”
Sue Davies, Head of Consumer Rights and Food Policy at Which? said;
“The report highlights some key questions for the UK’s trade policy. Given the government’s commitment to upholding standards and tackling climate change, it is essential that ministers heed the report’s warning on the worrying precedent the Australia deal could create and set core food standards for imports. The UK can’t work to transform its own food system and support people in making food choices that are better for their health and the environment if we allow foods to be imported that are produced to lower safety, environmental or welfare standards.”
Please use the messages below on your social media channels;
- Food retailers join environment and farm campaigners to call for new food laws to break junk food cycle https://bit.ly/3Bu7FOy @UKSustain @WWF_UK_Politics @Food_Foundation #FoodWhitePaper
- We are pleased to support this call from business and civil society calling on the Government to take bold action to fix the broken food system. We need new food laws. https://bit.ly/3Bu7FOy #FoodWhitePaper @UKSustain @WWF_UK_Politics @Food_Foundation
Forgive me for pointing out that, while we receive some one-off donations, I am funding Farms Not Factories myself, and if we are to continue to fight the cruel, antibiotic-led factory farm system, we will need some regular donations from like-minded people. Please consider a monthly subscription of £2/month and help us support a network of smaller scale, humane and healthy UK pig farms, local abattoirs and butchers.
“Our message is simple, we want to help bring an end to this dangerous, inhumane system. Vote for real farming over factory farming.”
– Tracy Worcester, Director
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