Farm to Fork, Education, History, Inspiration, Action, Deliberation, What we are About to Receive, Weather, Climate, Famine, Disease, War, Poverty, Civil Strife, Shortages, Waste, Greed, Land, Environment, Wellbeing and Recession
Here’s news of a campaign we’re running this year, leading up to Harvest Festivals and other relevant topics (eg the beginning of Ramadan and consequences of sunshine/vitamin D matters for adolescent girls), the Harrow-for-halal decision and, in general, the welfare of victims of sacerdotalism. Harvests feature in all cultures and traditions and this is an apt time for us to rehearse our mission of interpreting the farm-to-fork message for farming, food, health, and the land, in which we set humans with all the other animals, in a rigorously scientific and evolutionary manner to strive for a common wellbeing.
This year’s Harvest Festivals are special for another reason. We are joining with other relevant organizations to mark the end of the Battle of Britain in 1940, which was succeeded quickly by fears of an invasion somewhere along the south coast between the Wash and Dorset, probably Lyme Regis. Fears of “Goering’s revenge” included contemporary concerns over biological, chemical, and “secret rays” as means of laying Britain waste and nullifying the UK while Hitler set to work on the Russians and appeasing the USA. In fact, the 1940 harvest was brought in, with schoolchildren, the women’s land army, and prisoners-of-war abandoning everything else for tasks of reaping the cereals and tatty-howking. And, the end of the Battle being put at mid-September and fought over Britain’s garden counties, home-grown fruits from those gardens, greenhouses, and orchards had to be gathered and stored, together with “food for free” from the wild.
What a lot of farming and environmental comparisons can be made with today and glimpses we get of the land as TV focuses on the aerial combats over the growing crops! Already the wartime coalition government was beginning to face the contrasts of the poor people of the east end of London, “holidaying” in picking hops and cobnuts and the pathetic scenes of evacuee children with their gasmasks separated from their families to “settle in” with country folk out of range of the Blitzkrieg on London, which started in September 1940 after Hitler abandoned the onset on Britain by sea.
Protagonists in the Battle included many people with vivid memories that recognize the combined glories of the auxiliary services, eg the Observer Corps (by the end of the Battle the Germans had destroyed nearly all Britain’s relevant radar stations), the naval forces in the English Channel and the North Sea who protected coastal shipping from attacks by E-boats and rescued (and captured) pilots who had “ditched” and were “in the drink” – and for whom the war had just begun, or ended.
In 1940 a don at Cambridge University was introducing, with much scientific acclaim, developments with AI to “improve” Britain’s herds of cattle. The archbishops and Church recoiled with horror at such “unnatural” practices, which are now acceptable in the claims for organic practices central in modern systems of the dairy/beef/veal industry, but latterly confronted with less demur to the challenges of intensive zero-grazing, GM, and cloning.
The archbishops’ concerns were soon overcome by “fighting the good fight” (on both sides) and on the bombing of citizen populations. Churchill had to make hard decisions on the development of penicillin – whether to reserve sparse supplies for the succour of the wounded citizens or the armed services – or even for “those poxy Americans” in the UK and other theatres of war. In the 1940s pacificists and COs, anticipating what would develop after the war in the forms of Oxfam and the like and with a Government led by Clement Attlee (well-named) renowned for its austerity and demands of self-discipline and by its efforts at aiding the victims of famine in areas such as Bengal (where the blockades of world trade had affected them worse than the shortages experienced in the warring nations) began initiatives informing the spirit of political change in the immediate post-war years.
We shall carry out our Blitz for this Harvest in a graceful and respectful Festival of education, remembrance, and refreshment. Tesco and Hovis are vaunting their breads made with 100% British-grown wheat; Asda proclaims, in competition, the attributes of French sources, Warburton’s excuse themselves from any such labelling. What’s good or bad about it? Or is it worth bothering?
We are concentrating on a single leaflet and the fruitful debate, sermons, assemblies and press information, to organizations and individuals who give pause to its message and, we hope, for inspiration to inform thrifty and purposeful choices for a Better Quality of Life rather than overriding obsession with cheap food policies in pursuit of falsely High Standards of Living.
Our Campaign began this year with leaflets and picketing at targeted events and sites, such as
Lent is for Lentils at Christian Churches
Despatches, copies of leaflets for distribution and picketing at DEFRA and Food Standards Agency’s functions
Displays of leaflets in
· Public Libraries
· RSPCA, PDSA, and Oxfam Shops
· Farmers’ Markets
· Parliamentary Groups
· Imperial War Museum
We would be happy to meet you and your colleags if you need more information. Our www will be posting further details to keep the story going.
I might mention our formal launch in 1976 of our Green Plans for research, which included our Campaign for Real Bread. This created a stir that overwhelmed our slender resources. The Sunday Times, for whom I had done some unpaid investigative research work, were so inspired that their journalists offered us tremendous backing and the launch a year or 2 later of the book of Real Bread, which is still on sale and relevant to developments we are continuing. Recent changes to the functions of DEFRA and DOH and the FSA and Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) have complicated matters. I have been made an hon member of the Veterinary Public Health Association, which is part of the BVA.