Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Eat Seasonably – save money and the earth

Eat Seasonable Fruit & veg

Eating seasonable fruit and veg can be a great way to save yourself money, and reduce your impact on the environment. It can be hard though to work out what really is in season now that you can get pretty much anything at any time of year.

Luckily there’s a great new website – – that tells you what to eat now, and even what to grow. It’s all presented in a great format and can be printed out and stuck to the fridge. We’re going to try it out and see!

Caroline Flint : Let them eat Bricks & Mortar

I guess when you’re housing minister, then every problem is solved by building more houses, but the timing of her statements in this story in the Telegraph, have got me more than a little annoyed.

Let me get this straight . .

  • Food prices are rising
  • Energy prices (used to import food from overseas) are rising dramatically
  • We all need to reduce our food miles to have any chance of reducing global warming
  • House prices have lost 12% so far and may halve within the next two years

And her solution to the shortage of affordable rural housing is to build more houses on farmland around small villages?!? Surely this will result in:

  • Less land available to grow food in the UK
  • More imported food
  • More expensive food
  • More CO2 emissions
  • A real risk that Britain will find itself unable to feed itself in a post-peak-oil world

And if that wasn’t stupid enough:

  • Even lower house prices
  • Local people buying these new houses will be in Negative Equity almost immediately
  • These houses will just end up as more “second homes” in under a decade

Within the next decade we’ll be facing real oil-supply issues that could have a critical impact on Britain’s ability to feed itself. The solution is not to have people delighted to be living in local houses, but who find themselves unable to afford food.

Now, I’m not housing minister, so maybe I’ve missed something there, but how about we look at some other solutions:

  • Removal of second homes, by tax or legislation.
  • Maybe identify the areas most at threat from local depopulation and declare them “protected areas” where housing must be inhabited for at least 50% of the time. Housing not meeting this criteria to be bought by local councils to be rented affordably to local families working in the area.

Those are just my initial (slightly grumpy) thoughts, but surely somebody out there must have more than half a brain, and be able to come up with something better than the “duh . . . let’s just build more houses” argument.

Monty Don aims to change the way we garden – and eat

Monty Don, gardener, journalist, author, ex-presenter of Gardener’s World and now President of the Soil Association is a convert to the Peak Oil cause and the Transition Movement.

Last November he wrote a great article for Gardener’s World magazine – you can find a copy over on Transition Culture – in it he talks about the invisible footprint we leave as gardeners, and stresses that we need to move to a much more local society.

This August, just as he starts his new post at the Soil Association, he gave a wonderful interview to The Guardian. In it he discusses creating an underground movement to spread the message that we need to be growing much more of our own food. He also wants to move the Soil Association into a more central role in ensuring the sustainability of Britain’s food supply.

I would much rather someone bought food that was local and sustainable but not organic than bought organic food that had to be shipped across the world. We’ve got to move away from making people feel lesser because they’re not [eating] organic. There is no doubt about it, ‘sustainable’ is a better expression for the same sorts of ideas than ‘organic’.

You can see this emphasis through the work the Soil Association is doing now – their latest taste of the good life courses talk about helping to “create a vibrant relocalised food culture” and leading “a planet friendly lifestyle”.

Monty will be one to watch – let’s hope he manages to get his guerilla gardening movement going – we’ll all be better prepared if he does.

Is the end of cheap food a good thing?

Blimey, that’s a controversial thought!

Tuesday’s Sydney Morning Herald was trumpeting “the end of cheap food” with world prices rising, and Biofuel production eating into already failing croplands.

98% of me recoils against this idea, but there’s 2% of me that’s listening to WRAP‘s stats on the waste of food in the UK. You can check out the facts at the Love Food Hate Waste website :

  • A third of food in the UK is wasted – just try it at home – bring three bags of shopping in , then take one straight out to the bin again – it’s a SCANDAL.
  • That wasted food is the CO2 equivalent to taking 20% of the cars off the road – that’s right – 1 in 5 cars.
  •  The figures are just ridiculous – 6.7 million tones of food every year, with an estimated cost of £8 billion per year.

So let’s just think about this. We put taxes on petrol to stop people driving, to save the planet. But the CO2 equivalent of 1-in-5 cars is WASTED by us all throwing food away.

So maybe more expensive food is a good thing – it’ll make us value it more, make more people grow their own, and reduce the waste that’s going on?

Of course, that’s in an ideal world . . . in reality, I’m sure that the most waste comes from the wealthiest households, those least affected by the price rises (and by the petrol taxes) so when is somebo0ody going to come up with a solution that is not weath based? That really is the question.

Anyway, while we’re all pondering the big questions of life . . . here are a couple of great links to help make a small difference on our own waste levels. Abby at the Daily Tiffin talking about planning and storage, and Aidan Brooks (an Apprentice Chef) with a whole heap of useful links.

And don’t forget – fill out your own Food Waste Diary to see if the problem begins at home! I’ll have a go with ours, and see how we go.