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Good news for bees from Aldi – who would have thought?

Marianne Landzettel: From January 1st the German budget supermarket chain Aldi requires its fruit and vegetable growers to no longer use eight pesticides containing neonicotinoids as they are known to be dangerous to bees. OK, there are a few caveats: only in Aldi supermarkets in the south and west of Germany and in all branches in Switzerland can you be sure fruit and veg from German or Swiss growers have been produced without neonics. And potatoes remain exempt. But from aubergines to zucchinis that still leaves a lot of produce that will be grown without danger to bees.

05 February 2016 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 4

What is healthy soil and how do I know if I've got it?

Ben Raskin: If you have ever done any gardening or farming you will have a sense of what a good soil structure is, or perhaps an understanding of a fertile soil, but what do we really mean when we talk about soil HEALTH. Even the professionals don't have a single definition though this one from the FAO is pretty good: "the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living system, within ecosystem and land-use boundaries, to sustain biological productivity, promote the quality of air and water environments, and maintain plant, animal, and human health".

26 January 2016 | 5 Comments | Recommended by 1

5 quick ways to cut your carbon footprint in 2016

Kate Turner: In Paris back in December, world leaders from across the planet made commitments to prevent future climate change. Why not challenge yourself in 2016 to make your own commitment? It might feel like one small change won’t make a big difference, but don’t feel like the planet’s fate is in someone else’s hands: there are lots of steps you can take to cut your CO2 emissions and contribute to a greener future. Here are five quick ideas from Soil's energy partner and 100% renewable electricity supplier, Good Energy.

20 January 2016 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 1

Better Jobs for Better Farming - thoughts from the Oxford Real Farming Conference

Ben Raskin: One of the themes running through the conference this year was the theme of livelihoods in farming. In particular, can smaller agro-ecological farmers compete fairly in a global market, and if not then how can we expect to attract new entrants to ensure we have a vibrant, skillful and knowledgeable farming community to cope with the climatic challenges of the next century?

12 January 2016 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 4

The flood and lessons in a teacup

Marianne Landzettel: The floods in the north of England and parts of Scotland are causing misery to thousands of people. News footage shows flooded streets and clean-up missions, and it’s triggered a discussion about investments into flood protection - or rather the lack of. It might be too early to assess the damage in rural areas, from drowned livestock to ruined soils and crops. But it’s high time to discuss the impact of what’s happening upstream – and it’s not just the fact that according to George Monbiot* areas of the moors are still being drained and burnt to improve grouse shooting. I’d like to highlight the impact organic agriculture can have: it can act as a growing flood defence and keep mountains from moving. Literally.

05 January 2016 | 5 Comments | Recommended by 3

River Cottage's guide to a stress free Christmas Dinner

Jemma Moran: Christmas. It really is the most magical time of year, isn’t it? And what could be more enchanting than sweating it out in your kitchen, desperately preparing the all-important turkey dinner for your nearest and dearest. While they cram into your dining room you’re probably crying into the gravy that refuses to thicken or cutting the burnt bits off your roast potatoes. Sound familiar? This year, why not cut yourself some slack? We’ve come up with our top five tips, to take the stress out of your preparations.

23 December 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Christmas Wine Pairing

Andrea Spalletti: It’s hard to imagine Christmas without a turkey sitting at the centre of the festive table, and it’s hard to imagine Christmas without wine to accompany the feast. With fewer chemicals and a kinder approach to farming, switching to organic wine is just one of the ways that you can make a small change that will make a big difference this Christmas.

23 December 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Overuse of antibiotics in farming could threaten us all, but there is another way

Helen Browning: As the evidence mounts as to the madness of using last resort antibiotics like colistin to treat our farm animals, often via mass medication, the intensive farm and vet lobby still seems defensive and complacent. I guess it’s easy to understand why. Routine antibiotics are usually required in indoor, concrete based systems, where large numbers of animals are kept together, often stressed by their confinement. These are the systems deemed necessary for ‘efficient’ protein production, to feed us cheaply with watery bacon and tasteless chicken breasts. Vets are too often complicit; they still rely heavily on drug sales to maintain their profitability. There is another way, of course, one that has been pioneered by organic farmers over decades.

22 December 2015 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 0

5 top tips to get your glow on this Christmas

Ailish Lucas: Ah Christmas. Freezing cold wind, roaring fires and plenty of champagne. Sounds fabulous right (well the last two anyway)?! Yes, they are fabulous - but not so for your skin. As most of you will have noticed, as the seasons change, so does our skin. In winter, our skin becomes dry, you get spots and feel like putting a paper bag over your head, when really you want to sparkle like that sequin skirt you’re donning. So here are my top tips to help you get your glow on this Christmas.

21 December 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

A Christmas Tail

Marianne Landzettel: Baby animals are cute. Kittens lead on YouTube searches, loo rolls sell better if a puppy stars in the commercial, and who could possibly resist lambs, calves, foals and fawns? But to me the cutest of the lot are piglets; they are playful, inquisitive, friendly, intelligent, and they’ve got the looks. I say this as someone who is partial to a pork chop – but under one condition: the hog whose bacon I fry must have had a good life. The same goes for dairy cows, chicken and sheep – any animal that contributes to the food I cook and eat. How do you know an animal has or had a good life? For me one of the many reasons to go organic is the high animal welfare standards that come with certified organic production.

01 December 2015 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 9

Sustainable fashion: the gift that gives twice

Safia Minney: The fast fashion industry is the world’s largest polluter after oil. This is largely caused by farming one of the thirstiest of all crops – non-organic cotton. Conventional, non-organic cotton farming requires an extremely high use of water resulting in draining water resources, decreasing wildlife diversity and preventing future generations from meeting their basic human needs. Growing conventional cotton uses 16% of the world’s total insecticides and pesticides and it takes over 3,900 litres of water to produce an average t-shirt.

24 November 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Women’s monthly dose of glyphosate – should we be worried?

Susie Hewson: Natracare, together with the Women’s Voices for the Earth, are raising awareness about the unregulated and potentially harmful chemicals in feminine care products, including pesticides, fragrances, dyes and preservatives. At the same time, we aim to offer a viable solution of certified organic cotton and organophosphate-free natural materials to avoid unnecessary exposure to potentially carcinogenic materials.

17 November 2015 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 6

Poisoned apples are not just for fairy tales – Greenpeace report finds pesticides all around us

Marianne Landzettel: It’s been 53 years since the publication of Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ in which she described the detrimental effect of indiscriminate pesticide use on the environment. Carson was concerned about the use of DDT to fight malaria and other insect born diseases and because of the dangers to the environment and human health. Its use today is heavily regulated and restricted. It’s been 50 years since pesticides became a main staple in ‘conventional’ agriculture. According to a recent report by Greenpeace* 'millions of tons and hundreds of types of synthetic chemical pesticides’ are applied every year in what the report calls agriculture’s ‘pesticide addiction’.

11 November 2015 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 4

12 ways to have a more sustainable Christmas

Natasha Collins Daniel: Little choices can make a big difference, so this Christmas we’ve come up with 12 ways for you to enjoy a festive period that is better for people, animals and the environment.

10 November 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Making trees extra green this Christmas

Andy Grundy: You’ll probably know that we work hard to protect our soil through our work with organic food, textiles and beauty products, but did you know we also keep a close eye on one of the most important things that comes out of it - trees. Our Forestry team work hard to promote responsible forest management right across the globe.

10 November 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Out to Lunch: A Secret Diner's Perspective

Anya Hart Dyke: It can be pretty stressful taking a young child to a restaurant. My daughter is 17 months old so I’m always wondering if there’ll be room for the buggy, if they’ll have high chairs, if I’ll get a chance to eat my own meal or have to get a doggy bag. The last thing you expect to worry about is the food.

06 November 2015 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 0

Things the locavore diet has taught me

Holly Black: For the past two months I have been eating a locavore diet; that is to say, I have been eating only food produced within 100 miles of Bristol. It might sound a bit extreme, but it's all part of a research project called Going Local Going Green, where a group of 4 Bristol dwellers have been looking at what it really means to go local and go green in our fair city - including the way in which we buy and eat our food. We've been keeping video blogs on the locavore diet and on different aspects of the research on our website.

27 October 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

A revolution in children’s food on the high street is underway

Rob Percival: Two years ago the Out to Lunch campaign recruited a small army of ‘secret diner’ parents to find out what the nation's high street restaurants were serving up to our youngsters. The response from parents was emphatic: "these restaurants would go out of business if they treated their grown-up guests the same."

21 October 2015 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 3

Putting farmers at the heart of farm research

Thomas MacMillan: You don’t get many giggles on Farming Today – 5:45AM is a bit early for frivolity. But the other day I laughed. We were launching Innovative Farmers, which recognises farmers’ ingenuity and gives them research help and funding to tackle the big challenges in agriculture – the presenter asked if that stopped at creative uses for baler twine. I laughed as I’ve certainly seen it, but that’s actually just where it starts.

20 October 2015 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 0

Organic agriculture more profitable than conventional farming says US study

Marianne Landzettel: Demand for organic produce is growing and organic farming has a lot of benefits, from better soil quality to not having to work with highly toxic pesticides or herbicides. But a lot of farmers who are thinking about switching to organic are worried about the financial implications: on average yields in organic agriculture are lower than under a conventional regime – can organic agriculture compete financially? A comparative study done by scientists at Washington State University shows: yes it can! And not just that: they are up to a third (22 – 35%) more profitable than conventional farms.

15 October 2015 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 5

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