How can this possibly be true? But it is!
Well-farmed pasture with many species of grasses and plants creates a soil that is able to absorb and hold massive amounts of water. If you compare this system to land that continually grows cereals, whose soil structure is worn out, the results are so dramatic that it is hard to believe such a simple approach could have such incredible results.
So how do we do this? How do we encourage farmers to have much more grass as part of their farming practice? The main answer is for us to stop eating animals fed with cereals, soya and maize - foodstuffs that they were not designed to eat - or whose diets include the residue from the production of oils made from soya, corn and rapeseed, many of which are imported from countries that have been cleared of native forest to make way for large-scale crop production. Instead, we should demand to eat animals that are grass-fed and fattened on grass, so prompting farmers to use less land for cereals and more for pasture.
This one small thing would make such dramatic changes to the ability of the soil to absorb and retain moisture that catastrophic flooding, such as we've seen in parts of Britain this week, could be much reduced. Gradually, these changes would not only improve the structure of the soil but also bring back micro-organisms that are so important for a healthy soil.
Soils are depleted at the moment. An easy way to illustrate this is to remember how many mushrooms we were once able to collect for food; these have almost disappeared from our farmland. I do not completely blame farmers for this undesirable change as they have been sucked into a regime by farming policy and also their desire to produce food, more economically. I too was one of those farmers who fell prey to the insidious march towards industrial production. But I now see that we must change our direction and that change would have another side-effect: we would all be healthier. I understand that these changes would take a couple of generations and that is slow for us impatient humans. At the beginning we must take the best practice from both organic and conventional farming to ensure we can feed ourselves - although there is no danger of starving as so much food is thrown away
Change will mean more jobs, more satisfaction as our connection to the earth increases. The work of making food to keep us healthy would soon impact all areas of our lives in a very positive way. I think the popularity of the many cooking programmes points towards the fact that people are becoming more aware of the role of food and health.
This is just a short “at a glance” blog to get the ball rolling and to paint a picture in your mind that will help to get you to think about change as a long-term answer to one of the most difficult problems we have at the moment. It is clear that much suffering has been caused by the recent flooding but there is light at the end of the tunnel and that light, is you. You can be a leader for change and I think I am right to say that it is your duty to change, for the future's sake.
I encourage you to visit the Pasture Fed Livestock Association website and to discover what some truly amazing people are up to. www.pastureforlife.org Please join up, support and find places to buy direct from farmers leading this charge for change.
A message from a heart-centred farmer.
The Linseed Farm