Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.
This week’s news about an animal rights activist petitioning to stop a school from sending their piglets to slaughter has been brilliant. Firstly to raise awareness to the importance of reconnecting kids with where their food comes from. Secondly by making more people think about animal welfare and cheap factory farmed meat. (Especially foreign, low welfare, pork). And Thirdly to show what a mad food industry and society we now have.
I do however feel sorry for the kids at Priestlands School in Lymington, Hampshire, who were happily reconnecting with their farming roots until Ed, a local, barmy, animal rights activist, started a petition to send the piglets to a sanctuary instead of slaughter.We must reconnect our kids with where their food comes from if we want them to eat healthily and make the right choices. We worked with a school in Leicester to build raised beds for the kids to grow veg and teacher to make academic subjects, like Science, relevant to the veg patch. We also linked the school with the local shop as part of BigBarn’s Crop for the Shop initiative so that any excess crop was sold to make money for the school. The result was kids changing from ‘I hate carrots’ to loving raw carrots out the veg patch, learning more by making academic subjects relevant, and knowing they can make money by planting a packet of seeds.
We must also increase awareness of animal welfare. Animal rights people are good at this but if too barmy warp the message. Piglets at School do a far better job. The children can experience animal husbandry and decide for themselves, with the help of good teachers, whether they want to eat high welfare meat, cheap, low welfare meat, or become vegetarians. And hopefully influence their parents to do the right thing.We all need to fix our mad food food industry and food ‘ignorant’ society. We waste ridiculous amounts of food. We don’t need to eat meat to survive, yet we feed enough grain to meat producing animals, that could instead feed billions of people. If people had to walk through the factory farm and abattoir to get to the meat section in the supermarket how many would change their shopping list and walk straight to the vegetable aisles?
Our current food industry has disconnected food producers with consumers so it is no wonder that people are more influenced my food marketeers than food producers. Farmers produce crops for corporates not people and on average, only get 9p in every £1 spent on food in the supermarket. As a result farmers now grow grains that are almost indigestible, veg for shelf life and not flavour, and a few farmers, factory farmed animals.
Our media also confuse us. They tell us that farmers are rich and subsidised. And the latest schools story, with barmy Ed saying that kids can be mentally scarred by seeing their piglet friends slaughtered as well as making false accusation such as factory farmed pigs are kept in crates, (this was banned in the UK years ago but continues in Europe).Experts thought the food industry was like all other industries and that big and fast was best. Big to achieve economies of scale and fast to reduce cost. They now realise they were wrong as the modern food industry means farmers need subsidies to survive and consumers are eating unhealthy food that costs the NHS more every year.
The ‘experts’ now see many cases where small farmers receiving no subsidy are making more per acre that the big farmers. These small farms are selling their fresh produce direct to local consumers that is often cheaper and better than the local supermarket. Cheaper because they avoid distribution, packaging and retailer margins.
We need to encourage more farmers to produce food and local people to buy it. This is why every school should have piglets or at least a veg patch and why the BigBarn Local Food Map exists.The government have a chance to fix the food industry with Brexit, but judging by how long it took them to put a tax on plastic bags and even react to, let alone do something about, other environmental matters, I doubt they will do very much.
So please help make this important change that benefits us all. You can use our constantly growing and updating Local Food Map here to find and buy from your local producers. And please tell your friends. You should get better, fresher, food, and influence more, and diverse, local food production.
BigBarn is a Community Interest Company reinvesting any income in to building the UK’s local food industry. We now share our map with any organisation or website that wants to promote local food and share any income. For more on this click here. Or our ‘About Us’ page click here.