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I thought I might write about a BBC series which finished today, The Fisherman’s Apprentice with Monty Halls. It’s been a pretty thoughtful look at various issues within the fishing industry. I don’t think it went far enough in critiquing government policy and I feel that Hall’s idea to save sustainable fishing (Community Supported Fisheries) is the kind of consumer-led, niche idea that can’t really hope to revolutionise the whole industry. But, overall, it has been pretty good TV.

However, I couldn’t watch all of the last episode tonight as it had been rescheduled to make way for a brand new series, Our Food, in which “Giles Coren looks at how food is grown across the UK”.

I had seen the trailers for the series and had expected a well-photographed, rose-tinted view of agriculture, perhaps with some naive assertions about how people should really think about buying more organic and local food.

However, I was shocked at the content of this programme. It seemed to act as a cheerleader for industrialised agriculture and thus showed uncritical support for many of the things which are wrong with the way food is produced in Britain. Continue Reading »

Too much choice

It was appropriate that Charlie Brooker used food in his 10 O’Clock Live analogies about the potential effects of the NHS reform bill.

To start with he compared the (financial) choice between an anaesthetic crafted by Heston Blumenthal and the NHS Value version – a can of lager and a stick to bite down on.

He then had a moan over how there was already too much choice in life, and gave the example of around 20 different variations of weetabix, when all he wanted to do was eat some breakfast.

While the second joke was just amusing, the first was both funny and thought-provoking.

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As part of my proposed research into the future of agricultural employment in the United Kingdom, I will need to look at the historical issues over land ownership. I want to show how this history might put the country in a poor position with regards to any attempted trend towards smaller, more sustainable farms and away from larger farms with their increased environmental damage and greater social inequality.

Land ownership is not a common topic of discussion in the UK, which makes books such as Kevin Cahill’s Who Owns Britain all the more interesting. Cahill has much experience as a wealth and rich list researcher, having worked on the original Sunday Times Rich List and many others since.

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An Update

I am currently applying to carry out research into the effects of energy input decline on agricultural employment. I wanted to resurrect this blog as somewhere that I can not only write publicly and hopefully gain useful feedback, but also somewhere to record all the useful media, references and stories that I come across.

But first, an idea of where I’m coming from…

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“Shut Down the G8 Summit” Alternative sound demonstration – Shinjuku

Following Saturday’s meeting and speech by Susan George, the “working groups” from “Shut Down the G8 Summit” met other demonstrators in the heavy rain at Kashigawa Park on Sunday afternoon.

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Here there was a brief rally, with Susan George among others giving short speeches:

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Saturday’s events in Tokyo

On the first full day of anti-G8 action in Tokyo yesterday, there were workshops held throughout the city from 1pm, consisting of various “working groups”. These were then followed by a General Meeting at 6pm, which I attended. The meeting was held in Bunkyo Kumin Center near Kasuga station and the main speaker was Susan George of ATTAC France and Transnational Institute. She is a long-time activist and the author of a number of books on poverty including How the Other Half Dies (1976).

The first hour of the meeting was given to introductions and the reports by the “working groups”. These groups covered issues such as trade, sexual discrimination and American bases on Okinawa and Guam among others.

Shut Down the G8 Summit - Working Groups report

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G8 2008

This year’s annual Group of 8 summit is almost upon us. From 7th-9th July, the leaders of the G8 countries will meet at Lake Toyako, on the northern island of Hokkaido, here in Japan.

Over the next two weeks I am going to be writing about various G8-related events, with special regard to world agriculture, domestic Japanese issues, and the alter-globalization/anti-capitalism movement’s reaction to the current world crises.

For a very detailed summary of issues regarding this summit please read “The 2008 G8 on Hokkaido, a Strategic Assessment”, written by activists, scholars and writers based in the United States and Western Europe.

It is a long piece, but reading it would be time well-spent. It actually preempts a lot of what I wanted to say in this post, (even down to my not-so-original title) and so I will intersperse my writing with some quotes from it.

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