As a Grace before What we are About to Receive, we offer some exemplary Eating Plans from our Portfolio of menus and recipes
to inspire urgent action by British citizens with the self-discipline and kindness that imbue our present Minister of Agriculture, the Rt Hon Hilary Benn.
1. We are observing this year's World Food Day, this Friday (16 October), as a timely expression of a Harvest Festival in the traditional style of celebrating the end of the farming year, the final feasts on the products of mellow fruitfulness, and preparations for the storage and transformation of the crops to see us until next spring.
2. VEGA can commend the experience of challenges that the experts and, in more frenetic ways, the press and politicians din into us citizens, called for attention and action before, in times of desperation and reliance on others, to feed us through crises: the debt to the USA for its aid during the exigencies of WW2 have only just been paid off and the roundelays for those who perished on the sea should resound with the harvest hymns and carols sung today in British churches. During the Depression of the Twenties and Thirties of the 20th century the nation was spared outbreaks of the frank kwashiorkor of protein-calorie malnutrition, but rickets was common and can be rued still vividly by a generation of survivors to this day.
3. These considerations, not so remote from those that face us today, stimulated enterprise, much of it altruistic, to tackle food and health policies and aid worldwide, in the manner of Oxfam and in the developments of the Green Revolution led by Norman Borlaug, an energetic agronomist who died, aged 95, a few months ago. He introduced controversial methods of industrialized farming that offended commentators of what be regarded today as representations of the Real Green movement of the Sixties, such as Rachel Carson with Silent Spring and 'our' Ruth Harrison with Animal Machines. Does the modern history now taught in today's schools include accounts of the Battle of the Bulge when even the rich nations had to lament the side-effects of reckless overproduction at the altar of greed and productivity as the ills of living to eat began their betrayal of the care, precautionary principles, and thrift of populations who had just enough to eat to live.
4. It is now the time of the post-Ramadan Hajj and a couple of Muslim eids with similarities to Christian festivals of giving and sharing - and of sacrifices of non-human animals. Diwali is nigh and celebrations of one sort or another and by believer, non-believer, and Creationist or Humanist, are likely to mark the year's end with some sort of change (even if no more than return to previous levels or, possibly, a rise). Do they result in a great exultation of the numinous? Do we care for the wildlife and domestic animals whose lives we manage, lord, and sacrifice and pleasure as ruthlessly as an intoxicated mob of terrorists celebrating in the Bullingdon tradition of privilege and the advantages of university education, but lacking a democratically acquired ability to hold their drink (and not to scare the horses with fireworks).
5. So there are responsible responses, vows and reforms that we can rehearse and act on as this year's crops are gathered in. "Cut down on consumption of meat and dairy" runs a generally agreed recommendation for deed and word, not just for animal welfarists of all kinds but or all the producers and citizens(who, as customers and consumers are accomplices in the farm-to-fork relationship). Ways of doing this and assessing the results of this demonstration of non-nannied self-control abound - on our website for a start.
6. Now is the time to elevate food and its origins from mere fill-belly or gut-fill and dubious snacking and food-to-go (or on the hoof) to more - to food for thought. So a pause for a Grace before every formal meal (for what we are about to receive), said silently and individually in one's own individual voice (Quaker-style, but with or without any specific religious context) and appreciation in a topical situation. Pause for thought before food is an essential self-discipline.
7. Giving effect to cutting down on meat and milk could aptly turn to the treatment of the cow and her calf, as well as the beef job and there's plenty of thought for considerations of by-products and co-products, for edible or non-edible applications of 'cowardice'. Some supermarkets are now selling soya milk cheaper than cow milks, and they come with claims for health advantages (to people too). From a recent visit to a Waitrose farm VEGA learnt that the cows were yielding about 8,500 litres a year and were killed at an age of about 3 years (ie about 3 lactations and 3 calves). That output (which is also achieved in some organic herds - who may likewise be fed 'soya or prairie meal concentrates') could be expressed as about 25l a day during her productive life. A dairy cow kept on grass alone would yield about 4,500l a year, but would "last" longer. A beef cow with a single calf and no human sucklings would maintain an average supply of about 1,000l (1 tonne) a year.
8. Exercise is regarded as a desirable component of healthy lifestyles and helping to 'fight the flab'. Frequenters of gyms are generating a lot of energy from machinery requiring a lot of power in production. ASBOs and Community Service Orders might be environmentally augmented by tread mills for the generation of electricity as punishments measured on installations of tread mills with simple measuring equipment and recorders. Like the pre-prandial Grace this would be a suitable derivative of the past with an exhibition of social citizenship.
9. Let us Britons show the world that we shall no longer be cowed by the relentless and ruthless operations of the meat and dairy industries!
10. Woolton Pie is an 'improved' version of an offering common in the British restaurants of WW2, named after the eponymous Lord, who was then Minister of Food. A population of the British public survive with various memories and versions of this standby when the threat to Britain in its Finest Hours called for the austerity and fortitude that now challenge them and their offspring in times of austerity and climate change.