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Reflections on Farmageddon – Part 3

News Icon 28/04/2014

This is the final in a three-part series written by Emma Silverthorn who reflects upon her grandparents, Peter and Anna Roberts, and today’s work by Compassion in World Farming.

Reading Farmageddon is not an exercise in fatalism. It is well researched, evidence-based and offers many simple solutions to the problems that greed and intensive agricultural systems create and exacerbate.

In the penultimate chapter, Philip suggests several propositions that are astonishingly close to what Nan and Peter suggested in their early writings. Astonishing in that despite the advancements in technology—from GM crops and cloned animals to lab-grown burgers and the disturbing practice of feeding animals food pellets made from plastic—the solutions offered are in many ways elementary.

For example, they are rotational grazing systems, rather than monocultures; the preference to raise animals on land rather than in sheds; and resolving the issue of what the animals should eat and how their waste should be sustainably processed, their muck enriching the soil rather than creating polluting lagoons. Further ideas include investing in feeding pigs and poultry food waste rather than food fit for—and desperately required by—humans. Such systems are already being used successfully, including on the 1,060 hectare mixed farm in Georgia run by Will Harris that’s described in the penultimate chapter of the book.

In the Epilogue, Philip describes one of Peter’s last days. Though Peter had been barely lucid for much of those weeks in hospital, when Philip visited to reassure him about the future of CIWF and of the recent triumph over the banning of veal crates in Arizona, ‘a battle he had won in the UK two decades earlier’, Peter definitely understood what was being said. His attention was rapt for the first time in days.

There has inevitably been a lot of talk about legacy since Peter died and even more so since Nan’s passing in August. I believe Nan and Peter would have been thrilled with the publication of Farmageddon. The book’s intellectual and emotional approach reflects their own throughout their lives together, including the time they devoted to leading CIWF. Farmageddon is a vital and progressive element of Nan and Peter’s evolving legacy.

Emma Silverthorn is the granddaughter of Anna and Peter Robert’s, founders of Compassion in World Farming. She is a freelance writer living in East London. For more of her work check out Running in Heels, Our Hen House and The London Economic.

For your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.


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