We screened farming documentary ‘In Our Hands’ on Thursday 28th February, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with representatives from Trevelyan Farm and the recently formed Helston Transition Group. With the upcoming Extinction Rebellion talk on the 20th March, it seems like a good moment to to remind ourselves of the climate challenges we face and how our food production systems can play their part in making positive changes.
The film makes some interesting points about the benefits of small scale models of food production, and backs this up with facts and figures from serious scientific research. One striking example quotes an EU report from 2011 that demonstrates how in 26 out of the 28 EU states, small scale farms are more productive that their industrial scale counterparts. In the UK, small scale farmers and growers were shown to be twice as productive. The notion that we need ever larger-scale, industrialised forms of food production is a false one, and will only lead to more environmental degradation, lower animal welfare and the eventual loss of soil fertility. That we are not more wholeheartedly embracing small scale models of food production is testament to the fierce lobbying by the large corporations that run the agro-business industry, and who benefit hugely from owning the seeds, the chemicals and the machinery required.
In short, if we all buy more from small scale producers, either direct, or from farm shops and other independent outlets, we will be making a big difference. We can make our voices heard by showing our support for groups like the Landworkers’ Alliance (effectively a union representing small scale farmers and growers), our local Transition movements, and Extinction Rebellion.
As a catering business, we are trying to buy as much as possible directly from small scale producers, so next time you visit, please do ask us where we get this or that from, how it was grown or reared. Our ability to answer these questions is important to us, and hopefully to you too. And do the same wherever yo happen to be eating out. As an industry, we all collectively need to have our sourcing policies put in the spotlight. The more cafés and restaurants are asked, the more they will be inclined to change their buying habits.