Pigs should be fed leftovers to cut waste

The Huffington Post – Wednesday 5th June

Pig Idea’ campaigners are lobbying for the reintroduction of food scraps into the diet of pigs. Food waste has been a traditional staple of the pig’s diet right up to the start of this century. It was outlawed because of the role it played in the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 where it  was found to have originated on a farm using untreated restaurant waste to feed its pigs.

There are many reasons to support its use in pig diets again – there are nutritional benefits for the pigs and environmental benefits from cutting down waste and using less pig feed which is now often grown in South America where sensitive rainforests are being cleared to grow it. A number of high-profile chefs have gotten behind the initiative including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nigella Lawson, so there is obviously a gastronomic benefit as well!

However, there remains a need to rigorously regulate the feeding of ‘pig swill.’ It’s not good for pigs to eat just anything and they can catch and pass on a number of highly-infectious diseases through eating untreated food waste. So the Environment Agency is right to be wary of its return. However, regulation of food scraps fed to pigs is a viable way to contain the risk of contamination – heating food will kill dangerous pathogens including foot-and-mouth disease, making it possible to safely return to this traditional source of pig nutrition.

Wasting food is like stealing from the poor, pope says

The Guardian – Wednesday 5th June

Three cheers for Pope Francis denouncing the vast amount of food waste generated around the world. 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year in a world where 870 million people are hungry. It’s shameful. It is really, really shameful. Waste is something we need to be thinking about every time we sit down and eat. We should eat only what we need to eat; save what we don’t eat to reuse; use food before it goes off; compost whatever’s left in table scraps or if it’s meat, feed it to the dog. Think about it everyday.

Britain suffers highest food and energy inflation in EU 

Daily Mail – Wednesday 5th June

Inflation continues to rise above Bank of England projections, largely because of the rising cost of food and energy. While the reason for this is complicated, at its root is the issue that both current food production and most of our energy production is fossil fuel dependent. The government’s new Green Deal, which helps people cut their energy consumption by increasing energy efficiency and moving to greener forms of energy, is premised on the projection that the UK has just 65 years of fuel reserves left. They need to find ways of weaning us off this dependency asap, as that’s not a long time in the big picture of things. So, the trajectory for the cost of fossil fuel is inevitably upward.

We’re in a kind of double bind with fossil fuels. In the past few years, more oil reserves have been discovered, but getting at them will cause significant environmental damage. Though we are still ‘post-peak oil,’ we’ve got some time to run on it. However, using these new supplies is projected to raise the temperature of the earth the critical two degrees that will push us over the tipping point of irreversible climate change. We have to change our energy supplies. It’s time we get serious about green energy or there will be some very dark (literally!) days ahead.

Supermarket apologies for labelling gaffe

Farmers Weekly – Friday 7th June

Following on from last week’s piece on the use of the words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ in the labelling of beauty supplies that were definitely not, here’s yet another example of how tricky labelling can be. There’s a bit too much wiggle room in the current legislation on labelling and companies are taking advantage of this. It just points up the need to read all of the labelling – especially the fine print on the back. We also need to close labelling loopholes that allow companies to masquerade their products as something they are not.

Leading UK scientists sting back over criticism of research into bee deaths

The Independent – Wednesday 5th June

Owen Paterson voted against the EU ban on neonicotinoids. As justification of this, the government had put forward ‘research’ generated by its own Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) that was not peer-reviewed and not published in a recognized research journal. The FERA paper was published on the internet where anyone can post whatever they want. It has unsurprisingly come under scrutiny from both the scientific community and the European Commission. Also, it should be noted that FERA’s study was favoured by the government over a study conducted by the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee who strongly recommended the ban.

What does this tell us? Perhaps the government is engaging in a bit of the ‘Four Dog Defence?’ Does it have a vested interest keeping neonicotinoids on the market? Just wondering…

Cod stocks recover after years of overfishing

The Guardian – Saturday 8th June

A gently heartening piece of news about the nation’s favourite fish. While cod are still not quite sustainable, their stocks are recovering and it is anticipated that we should be able to eat them with a clear conscience in a few years. It’s a testament to how important fisheries management is. The recovery of cod, which was on the verge of extinction in the North Sea, shows that it is possible to redress and repair some of the environmental damage done in decades past.

Photograph by James McNamara

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