Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Good news if you like apples!

 I just came across this article on The Guardian website:

 It seems that the weather this year has conspired to produce a better than average crop of British apples!  Good news indeed.  However, apparently the blackberries have not been doing so well.  I tried making blackberry jam last year from wild blackberries, but it didn't work out very well.  I was hoping to have another go this year, so I shall have to see what the local, wild blackberries are like.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Vegetarian Britain?

 As anyone reading my blog will quickly realise, I eat meat.  I don't think anybody could be unaware that there has been some discussion about the environmental impact of meat production recently, with many arguing that we could feed many more people if only everyone were to become vegetarian.  This is an interesting argument, which I think is based on the issue that we currently grow a lot of food that could be eaten by humans and then feed it to animals.  In my opinion, in this case the point is a valid one, this is an extremely wasteful practice.  However, I would argue that if we used more traditional farming methods, where cattle are left out to graze in fields and hence eat grass all day, then the problem is significantly reduced.  After all, a cow eating grass is doing something truly amazing - converting grass, which humans can't eat, into meat and dairy products, which humans can.  This, of course, applies to livestock other than cows as well.

 The other side to this argument is one of sustainability and environmental impact.  How much of our countryside would have to be ploughed up to grow crops if everyone in the UK were to become vegetarian?  Since the original EatingBritish project, I have often wondered if it would even be possible to be a vegetarian and eat only food produced in Britain.  I think it would be very difficult, if not impossible, because as far as I am aware we simply can't grow the right kind of crops here.  So, if we were all to go vegetarian, it would surely mean that we would have to import an even greater proportion of our food.  Would that be sustainable?  The recent dry weather and wild fires in Russia have prompted them to ban exports of wheat, which of course has already pushed up wheat prices around the world.  I see this as being the problem of relying too heavily on food imports, if something happens to the supply chain, if you can't produce enough food yourself, you've got serious problems.

 I have found it very difficult to reliably find grass fed meat in the shops, otherwise I would choose this option all the time.