Saturday, January 2, 2010

'Health, whether of soil, plant, animal or man, is one and indivisible...'

Here is a Christmas snap of my two favourite pigs - Patti and Selma - in their new home. It is, sadly, over two hours drive away so I haven't been to see them since they left us. They were my pride and joy but a couple of years ago Marianne developed an anti-pig attitude probably because I was keeping them in our best field – sheltered from the wind, overhung with shady trees and full of lush grass – and she wanted it for her equine pals. Plus she had started composting to international competition standards and begrudged the pigs our kitchen scraps.

Speaking of compost due to the prevailing weather conditions last summer my normal pastime – sailing – was replaced with a new passion: soiling. I was in love with soil as a child, of course. I played with it, rolled around in it and – if photographic evidence is to be believed – ate it. When I became interested in gardening I understood, in an abstract way, that it was important to care for the stuff. It wasn't until much more recently, however, that I came to realise the essential wisdom of Lady Balfour’s remark: ‘that health, whether of soil, plant, animal or man, is one and indivisible.’

Which is why it is so important to source food - whether for ourselves or our animals - from farmers who look after their land. Lots of big food businesses - including many of the supermarkets - pretend that they are buying from small, ethical farmers but by and large it is simply a marketing ploy.

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