Seven ways to express your love for British farmers

Kierra Box

16 October 2015

British farming plays a huge role in UK culture, our economy and in our kitchens, producing more than 60% of our food. We all want to support our farmers, but can we back British farming and help the environment too? Here’s our guide…

Why not support British farmers every time you eat? We'll send you tips and ideas each month if you sign up to Eat Better with us...  

I want to eat sustainably

farmer holding vegetables
Farmer holding vegetables, by Istock

1. Buy British fruit and veg 

You don’t need to go meat mad to support our famers - and with meat production responsible for more climate-changing emissions than all forms of transport put together, eating less meat is good for the environment.

Buying British fruit and veg is also a great way to reduce the amount of food we fly in in from abroad and protects us from fluctuating prices or shortages.

This great guide to seasonal British fruit and veg shows what to buy and when to buy it. 

 

Girl holding money
Girl holding money, by Istock

2. Pay a fair price - and get fair wages

Farming doesn’t make many millionaires – in fact, some people working in the food and farming industries are paid such low wages they cannot afford to eat the food they are packing or picking [pdf].

If headlines about supermarkets driving milk prices down below the cost of production make you cross, consider buying British where possible and spending a few more pennies. This will ensure that whether you buy meat, dairy or fruit and veg, you’re supporting our farmers and agricultural workers to earn a fair wage.  

 

Cows walking in field
Walking cows, by Friends of the Earth

3. Buy British meat

We all benefit from better meat – so buy it British, and value it.

If you choose to eat less meat for environmental or health reasons, you can enjoy some new or higher-quality cuts and ensure that the animals you eat have been raised to the highest welfare standards.

In turn, farmers benefit from more cash in their pocket.

Once you’ve invested in some better beef or sustainable sheep (or investigated some cheaper and less known cuts of meat to make sure that the whole of each animal is used), learn how to store it for longer, cook it better and save on waste - so your British meat doesn’t end up in the bin.  

 

Sheep in a field
Sheep in a field, by Nigel Elgar

4. Escape the grain exchange

Did you know that about 20% of the materials used to feed British livestock are imported from outside the EU?

This means that when global grain prices increase, our farmers get squeezed – and the average cost of feed has increased by 65% over the last 10 years.

If you are able to buy "pasture-fed" meat that has been raised on lovely, grassy, pasture you can help protect British farmers from fluctuating feed prices.

Find out more about the benefits and how to tell if your beef or lamb was raised on pasture from Pasture for Life.

 

Farmer selling eggs at market
Farmer selling eggs at market, by Friends of the Earth

5. Cut out the food middleman 

If you can buy direct from a farmer, farmers market or a shop that sources their products direct from British suppliers, you know the food is fresh and more profit goes back to the farmers.

This is also a great way to support smaller farmers, who often use more sustainable (or organic) methods but find it difficult to supply the volumes required by supermarkets.

Buying local also supports your local economy. There are some great tools online to help you find some new venues for your weekly shop

 

farmer weeding lettuce field
Farmer weeding field, by Ian Jackson

6. Ask the Government to back fruit and veg from British farmers

At the moment, British farmers produce 84% of the meat we buy – but only 22% of the fruit and vegetables.

On average, a farmer can feed up to 30 people [pdf] throughout the year on one hectare with vegetables, fruits, cereals and vegetable fats.

If the same area is used for the production of eggs, milk or meat, you can feed between 5 and 10 people.

If we shifted to producing more of our own cereals, fruits, veg and nuts we could cut our carbon emissions by 73% and free up over a third more land to grow additional food.

The Government is currently developing its 25 year food and farming strategy. If you agree that producing more of our own fruit and veg could help feed the nation and pay our farmers, contact your MP and make sure that your voice is heard. 

flooded field
Flooded field, by Emma Stoner

7. Help improve farming

The future of British farming relies on many factors, such as tackling soil erosion and flooding to ensure we can grow food, and protecting the bees which pollinate many of our crops.

But we can do our bit to support farmers by eating more sustainably. In a nutshell, this means eating less meat and more fruit and veg. A more sustainable diet is not only great for your health but encourages more sustainable farming, which in turn is good for the planet.  

So why not support the future of British farming and commit to a more sustainable diet by signing our Let's Eat Better pledge?  

I want to eat sustainably

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