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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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The Quiet Resilience of Willowbrook Farm

Willowbrook Farm is a fifty-acre plot near Oxford on which the Radwan family grows vegetables and rears chickens, cows and sheep to produce ethical and sustainable Halal meat. Throughout the tumult of the pandemic, this farm’s small-scale model lent it incredible resilience; while much of the UK’s food system was disrupted, Willowbrook, the UK’s first Halal and Tayyib farm (meaning a farm where Muslims can be assured that their meat has been reared according to ethical principles & which has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic scripture), sustained a steady supply of meat to its customers, thanks to its deep roots in an established local and faith-based network. As they closed the farm’s gates to its usual visitors at the start of the lockdown, the Radwans had time for deep reflection, and a chance to finish ongoing projects, without having to worry about massive income loss.

COVID-19 has raised significant questions about meat production, and Lutfi and Ruby Radwan have added their voices to the chorus of environmental campaigners, scientists and animal welfare advocates arguing that the pandemic is a direct result of industrial-scale meat production.

“Healthy animals can withstand environmental and health stressors; when their bodies and immune systems are functioning well, they are able to fight off a host of viruses and diseases,” Lufti said. It is only when the animal’s health is compromised, as happens in intensive meat production, that these illnesses are able to develop into a more dangerous form.

“The whole issue is actually an environmental issue,”’ he said. “You can’t separate the morals and the ethics, and you can’t keep seeking profit by stripping farming of any connection to sustainability and the land.”…

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The LWA Response to the National Food Strategy


‘Another food system is possible and urgent, but this won’t get us there’

‘Be bolder, go further’

A few weeks ago, Part 1 of the National Food Strategy (NFS) was released. Rebecca Laughton, a grower and campaigns coordinator for Landworkers Alliance, and co-author of the Peoples’ Food Policy is on the advisory panel. However, she was not allowed to share the report with us for comment in advance of its release, nor was she given time to discuss and debate the content, as would be expected of an Advisory Panel.The need for a National Food Strategy is pressing. A NFS should be a collectively determined vision and set of policies designed to get there. It should be drawn from the lived experiences of a cross section of civil society. When compared to the People’s Food Policy, produced by LWA in collaboration with many other unions, organisations and NGOs on a limited budget, the democratic mandate, vision and strength of proposals is disappointing. As it stands the NFS is not a strategy; it’s a synthesis of information collected by Henry Dimbleby – an entrepreneur who owns LEON’s restaurants. He has met with a wide range of people and read a huge array of documents, but we’ve ended up with an essay of Henry’s thoughts on the food system, rather than a democratic roadmap for our food system.

Reclaiming our food system

The report begins with a damning critique of the health impacts of the industrial food system and makes some brave recommendations to a government that has historically left food to the market. It states that “The single most important force that shapes our food environment is the free market,” and makes the case for intervention to correct market failures. It calls for regulation to protect public health, defends taxation (the sugar tax) and other interventions.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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