At a recent meeting with leading businesses, I was asked, given three minutes with UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, what I would ask him? I would urge support for food production that puts animals back on the farm instead of in factories; extensive farming connected to the land, providing more nutritious food in ways that are better for the countryside and animal welfare. Government could help improve the health of the nation and safeguard future food supplies by building on natural resources: the pasturelands that cover a quarter of farmland worldwide, and two-thirds in Britain.
For a generation of consumers shielded from the realities of factory farming, brought up on picture-book images of Old Macdonald and his small farmyard idyll, reinforced by advertising and often misleading labels, the truth often comes as a shock. Putting farm animals back on the farm could be a big vote-winner too; many people mistakenly think it’s where they are anyway!
Through writing Farmageddon, I have become convinced that we have tremendous power as consumers; that we can make a difference three times a day with every meal. I have learned how our choices can have a real effect, not only on the people, animals and countryside behind the food we eat, but on ourselves and our families.
Simple measures like eating what we buy instead of throwing so much away, and eating less but better meat, can make that difference. And when consumers choose alternatives to industrial factory farming – like free-range, pasture-raised, organic or the like – then supermarkets and policymakers take note. Things begin to change – from Farmageddon to a better future for people, animals and the planet.