Buy local, seasonal and environmentally friendly food
Historically, farming has shaped much of the British countryside, contributed to its beauty and provided a unique way of life in rural areas. Unfortunately, by using pesticides, artificial fertilisers and other intensive farming techniques, industrialised agriculture in this country and across the world is damaging our life support systems – the water, soil, wildlife and climate we need to continue to feed ourselves.
The UK, like most countries in the world, is not only losing significant quantities of soil but also not taking proper care of its quality. This has been acknowledged by government but many independent organisations are concerned that the problem is not being adequately tackled. The Soil Association www.soilassociation.org is among those organisations. Indeed it was founded in 1946 on the principle that healthy soil is the foundation for healthy plants and animals and, in turn, healthy human beings. Today, it puts those principles into practice as the largest organisation certifying and supporting organic farming and food in the UK.
Birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife – and the wildflower meadows and hedgerows and other habitat they need - are not only an integral part of the attractiveness of our countryside, but are also vital indicators of the health of complex systems that allow us to produce food. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/farming works with farmers and government to help reduce the decline in farmland wildlife caused by industrial farming systems and promote a more sustainable approach to farming in the UK. By managing their own land, including an arable farm they have shown that it’s possible to benefit wildlife and run a viable farm.
As well as producing our food in unsustainable ways, we are also transporting it over long distances. This not only uses energy in transport, storage, and building roads and other infrastructure, but also further stretches our long and complicated food chains, reducing our self-reliance and cutting us off from the seasonal rhythms of our farming climate.