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Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil.To feed the world, to clean the air and water, we need to change what we do with our soils.This podcast looks at the many variants of regenerative food growing. How? Why? When?We must be the ChangeUnderground!


66 #worldorganicnews 2017 05 29


The Truth About Factory Farms

6 Reasons Local Food Systems Will Replace our Industrial Model BY

Ridiculous! “EU declared Monsanto weed killer safe after intervention from controversial US official” | The Guardian

Luscious grass


This is the World Organic News for the week ending 29th of May 2017.

Jon Moore reporting!

This we begin with an infographic from the blog The Internet Post entitled: The Truth About Factory Farms.

What can I say? The horrors of factory farming should be well known by now yet as a form of food, and I use that word loosely, production continues. The business sense of bringing every component to one place, performing a production activity and then sending out a finished product makes some sense if you’re building a car or mass producing widgets. When it comes to food, living things, then it makes far less sense. Plants do not fit into this system and animals less so.

Let me explain. Even in a given population of corn seeds each seed is similar but not identical. The great advantage of industrial production is consistency of inputs. So the steel going into each car is of the same standard but factory farming cannot rely upon this. The variation in maize seeds may not matter but the different growth rates of chickens, pigs, cattle or sheep makes for some unpleasant outcomes. “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.” is a quote which is cruel enough when applied to people, when it’s applied to chicken production it leads to dead chickens littering the shed floor. The non-standard, so to speak, are discarded.

Not only are the meat chickens living with their dead, they are also standing in their own faeces. And waste is an issue. According to the infographic at least 2 billion pounds of nitrogen rich manure is created as a waste, that’s over 1 billion kgs or over 1 million tonnes of nitrogen rich manures each year, just in the US.

Manures that are distributed across pastures by field raised animals end up where they are needed. The manures are not concentrated to the extent they pollute waterways nor aquifers. Free range animals that collect their own food from those same fields do so in rotation. This allows the manures to be biologically assimilated into the soils, the animals to be on fresh ground and the pastures to re-grow. Yes this takes a little longer than the factory system but it benefits the soil by assisting in growing soil carbon, allowing fungal networks to thrive in undisturbed soils and reduces the risks from flooding as the soil actually holds more water.

Compare this to a flood event at a factory farm. Loss of livestock, massive concentrations of manure flowing through the landscape and the loss of the fertilising elements in those manures. All of this is just a part of the unpaid for cost in a 99 cent hamburger. The environmental services organic, free range operations provide are not always included in their cost to the consumer either. The difference being, factory farms unpaid costs have a negative effect on the biosphere and organic production’s unpaid costs have a beneficial effect.

In essence the two systems are competing for our dollars. Any system which forces an animal into conditions where it cannot express its innate animal-ness is something to be avoided. It will cause suffering. That a chicken’s brain is not as large as a cow’s is irrelevant. Suffering is suffering. As custodians of other animals we have a responsibility to them. Jamming them together for the sake of efficiency or Return On Investment is no excuse. What we can do we must. But simply refusing to purchase factory farmed meat is not enough. The taxpayer subsidies involved in every step of the factory process from land acquisition to cheap corn feedstock give the system an inertia which can only, in my opinion, be overcome by political actions.

That being said our second post of interest this week is from the blog agribusiness global and is entitled: 6 Reasons Local Food Systems Will Replace our Industrial Model. A short piece, apparently truncated but to quote:


When I was growing up in south Missouri in the 1940s and early 1950s, our family’s food system was essentially local. I would guess close to 90 percent of our food either came from our farm or was produced and processed within less than 50 miles of our home. There were local canneries, meat packers, and flour mills to supply grocery stores and restaurants with locally grown food products.

End Quote.

This was the case across of the western world. It was not a garden of Eden but it was resilient. Interdependence and inter reliability helped to keep to system stable. Things change. The cultural effects have been sufficient to raise eyebrows with the death of small communities, the growth in farm size and loss of community. Again to quote from the post:


Over the years, the local canneries, meat packers and flour mills were consolidated into the giant agribusiness operations that dominate today’s global food system. Supermarkets and fast-food chains replaced the mom-and-pop grocery stores and restaurants.

End Quote

Yes, this has happened all of the industrialised world but it is reversible. Most of these changes occurred not just for economic reasons but as a result of rent seeking and subsidy dispersal. Whenever you see the word subsidy read someone else’s money given to corporations. As subsidies were used to create the world food system we are subjected to now, subsidies can used to build a safer, carbon neutral or even carbon negative food system. As with all these things, oil, factory farming, coal and fossil fuel electricity producers, there are entrenched interests who have money to throw through lobbyists at politicians. So that again leaves us to organise. The types of people drawn to local food systems, to organic farming are almost by default, single minded individuals with little love of politicking so I am again left in a quandary.

Either their will have to be a major, catastrophic event to wake people up and lead to real change or that change is going to be incremental from the grassroots up. Neither option fills me with much hope. A catastrophe will bring much suffering and dislocation, incremental change will leave the food system as is for too long.

And incremental change is often reversed. In a post from The Guardian 24th May 2017: EU declared Monsanto weed killer safe after intervention from controversial US official.  


European Food Safety Authority dismissed a study linking glyphosate to cancer following counsel with an EPA official allegedly linked to the company and who figures in more than 20 lawsuits.

The article describes that individual as:

Jess Rowlands, the former head of the EPA’s cancer assessment review committee (CARC), who figures in more than 20 lawsuits and had previously told Monsanto he would try to block a US government inquiry into the issue, according to court documents.

And from further in the same piece:

Greenpeace said that news of an European Food Safety Authority-Rowlands connection made a public inquiry vital. “Any meddling by Monsanto in regulatory safety assessments would be wholly unacceptable,” said spokeswoman Franziska Achterberg. “We urgently need a thorough investigation into the Efsa assessment before glyphosate can be considered for re-approval in Europe.”

End Quote.

This is, obviously, not good news but it highlights the interconnectedness of corporations, governments and non-elected regulatory bodies. I hope we can all see the nature of the opposition, the vested interests, to real food, to healthy future, to clean water and air.

On an up note I now bring you a post from Apple Shed Creations, entitled: Luscious grass. I love this post, it’s about running sheep through an orchard. It represents an combined animal, plant approach that is the future, if we choose it.


Next week we welcome the sheep back into the orchard. I think they will enjoy the luscious green grass and shade under the trees!

End Quote.

Sheep are ideal to run in conjunction with orchards. They love the shade and the windfall fruits and they feed the trees. I have fond memories of a particular small orchard that was in my care and shropshire sheep cleaning up the windfalls just prior to mating time. The extra sugars from the fruit seemed to bump up their condition and they dropped lots more twins after I started making this a part of their year.

And on that happy memory we will end this week’s episode.

If you’ve liked what you heard, please tell everyone you know any way you can! I’d also really appreciate a review on iTunes. This may or may not help others to find us but it gives this podcaster an enormous thrill! Thanks in advance!

Any suggestions, feedback or criticisms of the podcast or blog are most welcome. email me at

Thank you for listening and I'll be back in a week.



The Truth About Factory Farms

6 Reasons Local Food Systems Will Replace our Industrial Model BY

Ridiculous! “EU declared Monsanto weed killer safe after intervention from controversial US official” | The Guardian

Luscious grass

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