As the week comes to an end, I always find myself thinking about my Sunday lunch. As an RSPB member, I like to know where my food comes from, how it gets to me and what impact it has on wildlife. For several years now, I’ve been attempting to eat less meat and in bouts I manage to go meat free, however sometimes this is difficult. When I do eat meat, I make sure that it is organic, which is really important for me due to its high welfare standards.
One thing that is important to my family is the value that organic farming brings to us all from a health perspective and for our peace of mind in terms of how it benefits the planet, specifically biodiversity. Why? Because there is good evidence that farming organically benefits wildlife (such as Tuck et al 2014). The rotational nature of organic farming and the fact that they do not use artificial pesticides means that it really benefits wildlife.
As a family, we’ve been buying organic produce for several years, having spent time reading through various blogs and articles on internet that detail the ways organic farming helps grow tasty vegetables, nurture healthy animals and promote biodiversity around the farms that operate organically. The article linked below describes how important biodiversity is to organic farms and how they embrace it. It also highlights how the RSPB have visited organic farms like Riverford to survey the wildlife that flourishes there, such as corn buntings, lapwings, tree sparrows and yellowhammers.
Increasing biodiversity around farms also helps the farmers, as the more predators that live in the farms hedgerows, the less problems they experience with destructive insects as the birds are feeding on them. The Soil Association states that on average organic farms harbour 50% more wildlife and if every farm in the UK moved to organic farming methods, the use of pesticides would drop by 98%.
For me, one of the key reasons organic farming is important is that’s it tends to be more diverse and use a systems approach to recycle nutrients and control pests. Intensive conventional farming may lead to cheaper carrots or chickens but I think it produces less tasty carrots and less healthy (factory farmed) chickens. Factory farming is bad for both chickens and our own health due to its reliance on antibiotics, but more importantly, very intensive farming has a negative impact on biodiversity as this 2015 article on the BBC website highlights.
So, when you tuck into your next Sunday lunch, be it an enormous turkey or a root vegetable tatin, if it is all organic, enjoy the fact that what you’re eating is good for you and the planet. If it is not, I would encourage you to think about where and how your food has been produced, and seek out wildlife friendly certifications such Fair to Nature or Pasture Fed. Or why not buy locally? There are many farms out there, such as Slade Farm, that produces food in a sustainable, wildlife-friendly way that caters to local customers.
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