This evening as I was browsing Facebook after a huge portion of pasta, I came across some astounding news. Sustainable Man posted this article which says that Bhutan is set to go 100% organic!
I must confess I didn’t even know what Bhutan was until now, but a quick research session informs me its a small Asian country nestled between India, Bangladesh and Tibet. Here’s a handy map.
So anyway, their Prime Minister, Jigmi Thinley, has announced their new National Organic Policy. This means GM, pesticides, herbicides and other toxic agrochemicals will be banned within the country, leading the way for 100% organic agriculture. Apparently it’s not a very long jump for them because a large proportion of their farms have never stopped using natural and traditional methods, but they wanted to make a political point.
I’m so happy about this, and it’s the fourth piece of good news I’ve had on the sustainability front in the last week! Things are looking up guys! As if this isn’t cause for jubilation enough, Greenpeace have uncovered some other sustainability gems about this little nation:
- It’s carbon neutral
- It’s food-secure
- It guarantees water and energy supply to over 95% of it’s population
- It uses Gross National Happiness instead of Gross Domestic Product
I know the third point could be taken for granted in a rich developed nation, but I put it up there to show that people are not being denied use of resources in the name of the environment. In fact there seems to be a high level of civil wellbeing within this forward thinking country.
I’m literally so impressed.
It seems to me that Bhutan is an international leader in sustainability!
I implore my own political leaders to take note and emulate Jigmi’s positive leadership.
A typical family-sized box
Having fresh, local, seasonal and organic fruit and veg delivered straight from the farm to your doorstep is not a novel or revolutionary idea. But it’s an idea that makes perfect common-sense, and which is very much in vogue. I thought this was worth talking about because, you know, common-sense isn’t exactly always in vogue these days.
There are currently over 600 veg box schemes in the UK and the figure is growing all the time. I guess it must be down to a combination of people feeling the pinch, the general trend towards having a go at the ‘5 a day’ target and perhaps even concern over food miles?
In case you’re ignorant to the ways of the botanical treasure-trove, let me tell you how it works. You hit up your favorite search engine, type in ‘veg box scheme’ followed by your town or county, and take your pick of the choices the lovely internet throws up for you. Shop around because all schemes are slightly different, but generally a nearby farm will offer to supply you with a weekly box of fresh produce which will change throughout the year depending on what’s seasonally available. Usually you’ll be offered a choice of a small, medium or large box, and many suppliers chuck in recipe ideas as well. Most schemes are organic and Soil Association certified.
Why they’re quite so great:
- They’re cheap. A small box can be as little as £7 per week. Because they come straight from the grower they cut out the middle man and this results in a much cheaper price, undercutting most supermarkets. It also means lower income households are more likely to afford a healthy array of fruit and vegetables.
- Even though they’re cheap, the growers are getting a better deal than if they sold their crops to wholesalers. Again, because that pesky middle-man is cut out the loop.
- They’re local. This means less food miles and less carbon emissions from transportation. It also means you’re directly supporting your local economy. It’s important to give local farmers and growers all the support possible because as oil prices rise, it’ll be increasingly important to have food security within your own country and region.
- They’re fresh. Most of the produce in a veg box will have been harvested in the last few days. This means they’re way healthier for you than shop-brought veg that could have been sitting on the shelf for literally weeks!
- It’s convenient. As you can order the box online and have it delivered straight to your doorstep, it requires minimum effort on your part. This will be a major plus if you’re very busy or very lazy.
So yeah, they’re a pretty good all round really. And the best thing is they’re just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sustainable and forward-thinking foodie solutions. There’s also Community Supported Agriculture schemes, farmer’s markets, food co-ops, allotments, community gardens, seed swaps, ‘’100-mile diets’’, locavores, hydroponic window farms, and a renaissance in growing your own vegetables… All of which are on a happy upwards curve.
So isn’t it time you ditched the packet white bread and air-freighted un-fair bananas? Throw yourself mouth-first into the future of food!
Look, you have to click on this link and read Katherine Hamnett’s page about organic and conventional cotton growing. It brought tears to my eyes.
Also good news: Organic cotton is definitely getting cheaper. My mum brought an organic cotton sheet the other day that was the same price as the conventional ones.
And it’s getting more mainstream too, what with New Look and Top Shop selling their own ranges.