Category Archives: Farming

Offended by Koreans eating dog? I trust you’ve never had a bacon butty | Chas Newkey-Burden

Frightened animals being caged, killed and turned into food – we’d never dream of such evils in the west … would we?

Would you eat rabbit? Even those who regularly consume meat from chickens, sheep and pigs will often balk at the thought of eating a cuddly little bunny rabbit. But what’s the difference? Why do we see some animals as furry friends and others as fair game to chop up and eat? With the Winter Olympics turning attention towards South Korea, dog meat has been put on the media menu. The west has gone into shock mode. They eat dogs? They must be mad!

Dogs are smart and friendly – but so are pigs

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Source: gad

Focusing on animal welfare is a smart move for Labour | Abi Wilkinson

Policies that motivate your base are no bad thing if they’re also popular among the wider electorate. Priorities such as a ban on exporting live animals will play well

During the last general election, animal welfare issues generated relatively little mainstream media attention. Though polls showed the vast majority of people opposed repealing the fox hunting ban, the consensus among commentators (myself included) was that the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge – to allow a vote on the issue in parliament – wouldn’t be a priority for voters. Other things, like the NHS, security, education and perceptions of competence, seemed far more likely to swing the result.

Meanwhile, on social media, something significant was happening. Not so much on Twitter, where journalists tend to spend a lot of their time. But over on Facebook, which has a far larger active user base, articles and videos about the potential legalisation of fox hunting went viral, sometimes racking up seven-figure view counts and reaching people who weren’t necessarily particularly politically engaged. The other big animal welfare story of the election – the Conservative U-turn on banning wild animals from circuses – spread similarly rapidly. That ban is also supported by the vast majority of voters and has already been implemented in Scotland.

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Source: gad

The Quorn revolution: the rise of ultra-processed fake meat

It was reported last week that Quorn is on course to become a billion-dollar business. It is part of a booming industry of meat alternatives – but many of these products are a far cry from the idea of a natural, plant-based diet

What exactly is Quorn? I have been asked that question regularly for more than 30 years. This may be a reflection of the general population’s scientific illiteracy, but most people remain hazy about the composition of Quorn – even those who eat it regularly. However, many of us are prepared to accept this understanding gap because Quorn seems to be on the right side of the prevailing food paradigm, which holds that eating meat, fish, dairy and eggs is a redneck habit that has had its day, one that amounts to propagating cruelty and environmental ruin and will lead to dire consequences for human health. On the other hand, “plant food” – an appealing neologism for vegetarian and vegan that owes its intellectual heft to US food writer Michael Pollan’s maxim “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” – is riding high on a wave of moral purity and an extravagant “feed the world and save the planet” promise.

The short explanation is that Quorn is a “mycoprotein” fermented in vats from a fungus found in soil. A fuller – but still heavily truncated – one is that it is made from a strain of the soil mould Fusarium venenatum by fermenting it, then adding glucose, fixed nitrogen, vitamins and minerals and heat-treating it to remove excess levels of ribonucleic acid. (In other words, it is a long way from what the phrase “plant food” may seem to denote.)

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Source: gad

'I used to see them as a bunch of rioters': Brazil's radical farmers | Ignacio Amigo

Landless workers who occupied disused and degraded farmland were finally given plots – and have transformed them into fields of bounty through agroforestry

Photographs by Ignacio Amigo

One day in 2005 Zaqueu Miguel was driving his bus through the outskirts of the city of Ribeirão Preto, in south-east Brazil, when he noticed a group of people camped near a rural property.

He discovered that the camp was called Mario Lago, and that the people there were demanding the expropriation of the land – vacant and degraded – in order to use it for farming. Miguel, who had grown up on a farm and had dreamed ever since of having his own piece of land, didn’t think twice. He packed some basics and joined them, keeping his job and family in the city but spending nights in a shack at the camp.

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Source: gad

Is this the end of civilisation? We could take a different path | George Monbiot

Environmental breakdown, coupled with the self-destructive behaviour of governments, has set us on a road to ruin. And we’re blocking off all means of escape

It’s a good question, but it seems too narrow: “Is western civilisation on the brink of collapse?” the lead article in this week’s New Scientist asks. The answer is, probably. But why just western? Yes, certain western governments are engaged in a frenzy of self-destruction. In an age of phenomenal complexity and interlocking crises, the Trump administration has embarked on a mass de-skilling and simplification of the state. Donald Trump may have sacked his strategist, Steve Bannon, but Bannon’s professed intention, “the deconstruction of the administrative state”, remains the central – perhaps the only – policy.

Defunding departments, disbanding the teams and dismissing the experts they rely on, shutting down research programmes, maligning the civil servants who remain in post, the self-hating state is ripping down the very apparatus of government. At the same time, it is destroying public protections that defend us from disaster.

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Source: gad

Bacon with banned additive among risks of US-UK trade deal

Soil Association issues top 10 food safety concerns posed by a transatlantic free-trade deal

The sale of US bacon produced with additives strong enough to cripple pigs, chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef, have been listed by campaigners as three of the top 10 food safety risks posed by a US free-trade deal.

Use of the pork additive ractopamine alongside the more publicised controversial practice of washing chicken in chlorine or feeding cattle growth hormones have been highlighted in a report by the Soil Association as chief among the concerns of a post-Brexit era.

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Source: gad

‘I feel less stuffed after dinners – and less guilty’: why I stopped eating meat

My journey towards vegetarianism started 30 years ago for practical reasons, but the more I eschew animal products the better I feel about everything

My experience of giving up meat has been a gradual process, starting about 30 years ago, when a vegetarian friend and her two little boys came to live with me and my daughter. For practical reasons, we ate less meat. Why bother to cook two dinners when you need only cook one? Anyway, we all loved macaroni cheese and baked potatoes, and the odd tuna bake, because fish seemed sort of halfway and my friend wasn’t a strict enforcer.

Back then, meat still featured heavily when my parents visited. After all, I did love meat. I had been brought up on it and my mother was a superb cook. Her stews and casseroles, oxtail and neck of lamb; her roasts, turkey stuffing and chicken liver paté; her chicken soup and salt beef were delicious beyond words. There was something about meat-eating that my father found admirable, too, especially in boys. He once sat at the table with the children, watching my friend’s three-year-old son eat a large sausage. “Look at that!” he said with pride and joy. “What a good boy!” He failed to comment on my daughter’s equally impressive sausage-eating.

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Source: gad