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Small but mighty: Wicked Leeks issue 6 is out now

There’s a thread of small food producers running through this issue of Wicked Leeks magazine. Whether it’s those struggling to survive a hard Brexit and trading regime that only big multinationals can shoulder (page 3), or those, as described by cover star Jyoti Fernandes, who are working the land “to fight against the system…because they don’t want to contribute to the climate or biodiversity crises” (pages 10-13). 

Fernandes paints a radically different picture of small farmers from those you might recognise from the mainstream press, which has charted the rise in farmgate veg boxes and ‘local food’ since the pandemic without going anywhere near the challenges these farmers face.

Competing against subsidised, industrially produced food, small producers often work long hours for little return. But their contribution to biodiversity is hugely underrated (see pages 22-23 for an unusual link between organic cowpats and bats), and their ability to adapt means they’re likely to be more climate resilient (pages 20-21). 

This last is another theme of this issue as we grapple with how to reduce our own footprints: how to eat a climate-friendly diet? Food writer Anna Jones tackles this eloquently in her column on page 6, while in Lifestyle we explore what it means to eat seasonally in spring (pages 26-29), and how that can help anchor you to time and place. It’s maybe also why food is such a good springboard from which to explore our impact and place within the natural world and society. 

We hope you find both the joy and the inspiration for change within this issue – if you like what you read, there is more at www.wickedleeks.com/#join.

You can read the latest issue of Wicked Leeks for free on Issuu. 

    Comments

    astralstroll

    4 Months 1 Week

    I was interested in Louise Gray's article on food miles in the latest 'Wicked Leeks'..i can find no other place to comment.

    I have to disagree , particularly with the final sentence of the article .I found the following , which I post

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-farming-kenya-feature-idUSKCN1V20VT

    Rather than enter a global economic/financial system in order to fulfil the 'wants' of the Northern World might the growing of locally needed crops be more beneficial to Kenya's local economy and the pockets of local farmers and thereby reduce the uncertainty of a cash crop and, maybe incidentally, the possible dependency on genetically modified seeds?

    2 Replies

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    Comments Editor

    4 Months 1 Week

    A really good point astralstroll around communities being self sufficient and having food sovereignty. Promoting African indigenous foods for local consumption as oppose to just growing for export has many positive impacts in terms of health and biodiversity. Safe, healthy agroecological nutrition for communities in Africa was the focus of a talk by Dr Peter Mokaya at this year's Oxford Real Farming conference - you can watch it here https://orfc.org.uk/session/making-the-shift-to-agroecological-nutrition-in-africa/

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    Louise Gray

    4 Months

    Thanks Astraltroll, that is an interesting article on diversifying crops in Kenya. It is a big part of what Farm Africa do. The charity help farmers to buy the seed and train them in growing horticultural crops, as well as maize. The farmers themselves eat the vegetables and sell them locally, as well as selling into the international market. I guess ideally the market in Kenya will grow , but in the meantime Farm Africa are enabling these farmers to make money out of selling to the international market. Interestingly most of the big companies rely on a network of small holders rather than big farms. Farm Africa encourage farming practices that can help the environment such as drip irrigation to save water, natural pesticides and solar powered irrigation. Most farmers use cow manure but the programme is not organic. I agree that Kenyan farmers should be growing diverse crops and growing a healthy local economy and world for their kids . In an ideal world air freight that is high carbon would not be part of this (though it is relatively low as part of our overall carbon footprint). As a writer I was impressed by the Farm Africa Growing Futures project and felt it only fair to point out the good this is doing in the short term. I don’t know the Farm Africa policy in GMO but I do know they are helping to educate farmers so they can be more aware if this issue comes up.

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    John and Bee

    4 Months 1 Week

    Thank you so much for our Wicked Leeks Magazine, it's lovely to be able to switch off technology and gently peruse an uplifting and thought (hopefully leading to action!) provoking newspaper. We subscribe to The Positive News Magazine and The Happy Newspaper to counteract the negative media bias of our times. Wicked Leeks is a great addition - and free too!

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    Comments Editor

    4 Months 1 Week

    Great to hear you are loving Wicked Leeks, and totally agree that some time spent reading with a cuppa is a really relaxing change to screentime!

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    MilesT

    4 Months 1 Week

    One of the articles highlights organic supplier "Essential Trading" (employee co-operative).

    I would love to be able to buy from Essential. Unfortunately, Essential don't sell direct to the public, and have limited sales outlets country-wide (none near me). I have bought in the past for events, via a co-organisers existing account.

    I have suggested to Riverford in the past that they could sell a limited range of items from Essential via the Riverford website/box delivery, especially consumer sized packs of dried grains and pulses (often mentioned in Riverford's recipes)

    But this suggestion seems to have fallen on deaf ears (of organic wheat).

    If Riverford sold Essential Trading goods on a commission basis/sale or return, there would be little commercial risk to Riverford. Just space to stock in the order assembly shed and possible transit damage. I would not believe that the two organisations can't agreed on a suitable retail price point and share of profits.

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    Comments Editor

    4 Months 1 Week

    Hi MilesT, Essential are fairly widely stocked online so if there is no health food shop close to you, that may be an option (If you google 'buy Essential wholefoods' lots of options pop up so hopefully one will work for you). Riverford are focusing back in on what they know and do best - organic veg and fruit - and in a 'news from the farm' feature last year, founder Guy Singh-Watson explained some of the reasoning behind this shift https://wickedleeks.riverford.co.uk/opinion/news-farm/back-our-roots

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    Louise Gray

    4 Months

    Thanks comment editor I will have a look at that ORFC video. I understand that indigenous foods are becoming more available in Kenya again in cities. There are projects in Malawi run by the rowett institute in Aberdeen to bring them back to supplement a maize diet. I believe this is something farm Africa promote alongside ‘cash crops’. Maybe there is room for both if the cash crops can be healthy veg for a more local market.

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    Nina Pullman

    Nina is editor of Wicked Leeks and a journalist specialising in food sustainability, supply chains and ethical business. She honed her trade at leading trade magazine Fresh Produce Journal, and has written for the Guardian, Huffington Post and The Ecologist. A passionate traveller, she is interested in food as the starting point for discussions about culture, the environment, health, business, politics and beyond.

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    The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

    Here at Wicked Leeks, our mission is to help inform and inspire positive change. Our journalism is free to all because of this, but we want to reach as many people as possible who share our desire for a better world. We know our readers are some of the biggest advocates of sustainable living, and you can help us grow this movement by sharing this article widely, with your friends and on social media. Now is the time to act.