November 2013 – Buying good food is a long-term investment

It never ceases to amaze me how little knowledge some children, and some of the parents as well, have about our basic needs in life. There are still some who think milk comes in bottles!

I am, of course, referring to food production. It would appear that despite the excellent cooking programmes on TV, there are still many families that buy the cheapest rubbish on the shelf.

Denmark takes a much more sophisticated outlook, as every school is visited by a farmer and every school visits a farm.

They look upon agriculture for what it is, the most important industry they have. I’m not saying that the visits have made the Danes a lot healthier, but they do lead a much more healthy lifestyle and understand the importance of eating good quality food; you don’t find rubbish in their shops.

Another thing that bugs me is the number of vegan teachers. And, yes there are some, I am told by a number of parents, who actually try to persuade the children to follow suit. I don’t mind one iota if they wish to deprive themselves of delicious, nutritious meats, but I do object to them preaching about it.

A farmer friend has four children, now in their teens, and they were confronted recently by one of their daughters who’d decided to turn vegetarian, having been influenced by her teacher. They said nothing, let her eat what she wanted and after a few months she admitted she had made a mistake and apologised. Perhaps it was the irresistible smell of bacon that tipped the balance back in favour of eating properly!

Whether or not we should have free school meals – either breakfast or lunch, or maybe both – is open for debate. I know a lot of kids go to school without breakfast and have some junk food in their bags for lunchtime. I know life is much different now from when I was at school, food seems to be the least important item these days, taking very much second place to having all the mod cons, holidays, fitted carpets and two cars.

Again, I have no problem with people who deem these things necessary, but not at the expense of food. Buying good quality food is, in the long run, a much better investment than junk food. I know it’s not easy with ever-rising living costs, but it still needs to be kept in mind.

   We certainly started something when it was announced in 1990, that by January 1, 1999, sow stalls would be illegal. Canada is one of the countries now looking into the different aspects of group housing. Its National Sow Housing Conversion Project is now underway as sow housing conversion debates continues across that vast country.

Two pilot barns have been identified and have entered into the first stages of planning to look at options for conversion by using a model produced at the University of Manitoba.

The model uses the physical attributes of the current barn along with the producer’s plan for the future to develop the best-cost barn conversion plan.

> Yorkshire farmer Sam Walton is a former pig producer and the founding editor of Pig World

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