Archive for January, 2013

In Summer, English Apples Are More Carbon-Costly Than Imports From New Zealand

Not a headline of my making, but a statement made in a Sunday Times editorial on January 6th.  The actual title of the article was “Let’s air-freight the food miles fallacy to landfill”.  The bad news is that the public debate concerning the sustainability of purchasing down under produce and meat is still continuing in the UK.  The good news that there are advocates emerging amongst the British press who are willing to research the subject matter properly. The author of the editorial, Richard Girling, goes to some length to debunk the myth about food miles.  Apart from the positioning statement I used as the headline for this entry, Girling makes a couple of other priceless observations. locavore This one on Kenya… “According to Oxfam, the entire trade of air-freighted fruit and vegetables from Kenya (big business in Europe) contributes just 0.1% to Britain’s greenhouse emissions….Looked at another way, a total boycott of the trade would reduce the average annual carbon output of a British citizen from 10.6 to 10.59 tonnes, against a Kenyan average of 0.3 tonnes. Any ‘ethical’ British shopper who drives to a farmers’ market, or who airfreights himself on holiday, is a heavier burden on the environment than any pack of African sugarsnaps.”

On-line food mile calculators are, in Girling’s view, “twaddle, but its apparently commonsensical simplicity makes it twaddle of a seductive kind.”  I wholeheartedly agree and it is very assuring to see that research and fact based journalism is capable of presenting a balanced picture of this complex and emotion driven situation.

My question is – what are we doing to to encourage more Richard Girlings to emerge, so that the consumers in the countries we are exporting to are  more consistently on the receiving end of balanced information?

Time for some Mental Cultivation?

may-july2011 293The Melbourne Age reported on 7th January that 700 Australian 2012 agriculture graduates have the luxury of choosing from 4,000 graduate entry level positions, i.e. demand outstripping supply more than just a little…

Where have we heard that before?

The Left Right Think Tank, according to The Age, feels that agriculture has an image problem amogst young people. (Well, they are all under 25 in that organisation, so they ought to know…)  Dead right, so how are we going to solve that issue?  By making farming and horticulture Monday to Friday, 9-5, type occupations? And finding ways to avoid getting one’s hands dirty?  Not really feasible is it?

The whole concept of food production, though, is due for a major overhaul.  The Dutch – who are never backward in coming forward – are now talking about factory farming, as building these enormous glasshouse complexes they are so apt at plonking into the landscape are simply getting too expensive a construction project to contemplate!  And what are the Dutch minds  focusing on? Empty and disused office buildings for one….as more Dutch people than ever are working from home and office complexes are sitting idle and unproductive – something our Dutch colleagues cannot tolerate at the best of times. Time for some mental cultivation then?

Where Did 2012 Go?

Well, Peking2012 did not happen in this Blog… and there were a number of reasons for this…Now is not the time to expand on the past, though, but to focus on the future… and 2013 will ‘happen’ here as a Tour de Force !

The nature of the Blog will change slightly – whilst the Produce Industry will continue to be a key focus, I will also comment on other primary industry activities in line with our broader industry engagement  – and on the odd socioeconomic, societal or,  just plain interesting topic I have an opinion on… so, sit back and enjoy!