'Nothing tops the taste of grass-fed beef'
During my visit to this year's Ploughing Championships I happened to run-into Paddy Kent, an old friend from my ICSA days. After catching up on farming issues Paddy took me aside and said that he had a book which I might find interesting.
The book, Grass-Fed Nation - Getting Back the Food We Deserve, was written by Graham Harvey, former agricultural advisor to the BBC. Handing me a copy, Paddy said that he thought that I would enjoy reading it; and how right he was.
Harvey who has an Honours Science Degree in Agriculture from Bangor University has spent much of his life writing about UK agriculture and the environment. In this book he expresses his passionate concern for the farming environment and sustainable food production.
He is fiercely critical of aspects of modern 'industrialised farming' because of the environmental damage which he claims it causes and the poor quality and taste of the food it produces.
Harvey argues passionately that old style food production methods using natural grasslands are both healthier for the consumer and promotes increased biodiversity which is now accepted as being a corner stone of future sustainable agriculture.
He also highlights the importance of natural grassland and the huge amount of organic matter it helps develop in the soil which then acts as a massive carbon sink. Harvey expresses his deep concern at the amount of carbon being released into the atmosphere by the current shift to monoculture type wheat production which has now become such an integral part of modern farming.
In a way it's a very disturbing book because it raises many worrying questions about issues which we in Ireland appear to be turning a blind eye.
As I rely exclusively on grass grown on old natural pastureland to fatten my cattle, Harvey's emphasis on the environmental good, health benefits and eating quality of beef and lamb produced on this type of natural environment really aroused my interest.