RSA Talk on Food Ethics

http://www.thersa.org/events/vision/vision-videos/jonathan-safran-foer

A great pod-cast on food ethics. Its 30 minutes long, but it is worth the time. It has made me feel emotional and made me think even more about this issue.

Jonathan Safran Foer is a vegetarian/ aspiring vegan who has written a book about the ethics of eating animals. He takes into consideration the whole process, breeding, and growing animals, the transport and slaughter and the effect on the environment. He makes some really interesting points about vegetarianism and sustainability of food. I feel his ideas about the journey to the moral decision being as important as the conclusion are really interesting. See 19:40.

He obviously has met some really interesting small farmers during the research for this book, which he terms as family farms. This seems to have tempered the view that the only way to engage with this issue on a meaningful level is to stop eating  (and therefore producing) meat.

I agree with almost all of what he says. I disagree with the idea that the small-scale farms are only to be promoted because the reality is that people will not want to stop eating meat, and this is the only way we can persuade them ” to occupy the hypocritical middle ground”.

I  (like many others) am not unable to stop eating meat. I eat meat because I believe that small-scale sustainable mixed farming is the future. Animal manure is a key part of the nitrogen cycle. To produce manure in enough quantity to add back the soil fertility that you take every time you harvest a vegetable, you need to keep a lot of animals (or very big ones). They are part of the equation that keeps the land and soil in balance. John Seymour writes very beautifully on this topic and more recently Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall  has added some insightful view in his book ‘Meat’.  I have grown and used green manures, and they simply do not compare in terms of nitrogen. They can be part, but not all of the solution. Many areas of land are unsuitable for growing crops, but can be used for growing hardy livestock.

I have written about this before on this blog, but I applaud the fact that this podcasts focus on the important issue of animal welfare, sustainability and humane local slaughter rather than on the conclusion of the arguments: ‘do you eat meat or not’.

This has led me to draw up the first draft of the Sencemeadow charter, I will post this in another blog, once I have had a chance to share it with Becky.

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