A book review: ‘The Carbon Fields’ by Graham Harvey

October 10th, 2010 by Rosie

The Carbon Fields‘ written by Graham Harvey and published by Grass Roots is a fascinating read that explains what has gone wrong with farming today, and how it is contributing to climate change and environmental degradation, and effecting our health.

The book describes how correcting the problem would be simple if we reverted to the farming methods practiced for hundreds of years before the two World Wars.

According to Graham Harvey, meat and dairy farming run on rotational pasture grazing is more efficient at producing food in terms of energy.  It also creates healthier food and contrary to expectation, produces an abundance of food which he illustrates with several examples both current and past.  All the facts he provides are backed up by scientific research, which are referenced at the back of the book.

Pasture farming – growing food on grass that is getting all its energy from the sun – is not just a matter of relying on monoculture grasses, but encourages wild flowers, nitrogen-fixing clovers, and deep-rooted herbs that grow naturally in grassland.  Pasture farming grazes animals in a way that encourages root and leaf growth.

Pasture farming employs ancient skills that society is in danger of losing because for the last 60 years industrial agriculture has circumvented nature with the heavy hand of artificial fertilisers and pesticides.

We should eat roughly equal amounts of omega-3 and  omega-6 fatty acids . These oils are needed in every cell of the body in the right proportions, but in today’s western diet, they are out-of-balance. We are eating too much omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids.

Pasture farmed animals used to supply us with much of our omega-3 oils. However, the meat, dairy and eggs from grain-fed ‘conventionally’ farmed animals that we consume today are low in omega-3 fatty acids, as are the low-fat foods we are so often encouraged to buy. At the same time as this decrease in omega-3 fatty acids has been happening in our diets, omega-6 fatty acids have been increasing due to our increased use of vegetable oils. (Vegetable oils are also used in processed foods.) It is becoming evident that many of today’s degenerative diseases are a consequence of this imbalance.

As well as our investigating our health as a consequence of the food we eat, author Graham Harvey gives a compelling argument that proper pasture farming would reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.  Pasture farming could even reverse the damage done.  He explains also how well-maintained pasture land is resilient to severe weather events, which cause flooding, erosion and desertification due to drought.

If you are interested in food, health, the environment, or a future for your children, I urge you to read “The Carbon Fields.”

  1. No Comments

Have your say