Leading environmental campaigner Satish Kumar called for a greater focus on quality food in a passionate talk to the Supper Club at Tuppenny Barn, , in Main Road, Southbourne.
The editor of the Resurgence and Ecologist magazine, Satish said by growing more nutritious food, people would be able to eat less to satisfy the need for a healthy diet.
“We have a colossal wastage of food in Britain,” Satish told the packed audience. “At the moment, much of our food is heavily processed and not nutritious. We need to produce good quality, nutritious, delicious food so that a smaller amount of food will meet our needs.”
It is estimated almost half the food produced in the UK is thrown away, with the bulk coming from our homes rather than supermarkets.
Satish also urged people to adopt a greater respect for farmers and food providers, as well as a greater understanding of how our food is produced.
“Only two per cent of people in Britain work on the land,” he pointed out.
“If we really want a good society, more people need to be on farms, allotments and in their gardens. We need to respect and honour farmers and food growers but we don’t need intensive farming. Everything on the land should be done with love, respect and pleasure.
“Britain is a great country for growing food with a good climate and soil. There is no lack of food but our way of farming has to be addressed.”
The 79-year-old former monk has been campaigning for change for 50 years. He proposes a new trinity – Soil, Soul and Society - to address many of the issues affecting society today.
“Without soil, there is no food and without food there is no life, no trees, no forests,” said Satish. “So soil represents life on Earth. In our human-centred world view, in our education systems, in our study of science and technology, we have come to think that soil simply means dirt, and that dirt means dirty. But dirt is the source of life and, without it, there is no life.
“We are nature and once you know that you understand that what we do to nature we do to ourselves,” he pointed out.
“Everything in nature has an intrinsic value and we all have a role to play to protect it. We must not destroy nature as we are doing. In terms of our world we may be different nationalities but we are all human beings, one mass of humanity.
“Evolution favours diversity and we should celebrate our differences in terms of religion, culture and languages. They should not be seen as a division. We must transcend these divisions and then we can have a world of peace.”
Satish warned that we were in danger of losing touch with nature and growing food in a technology-driven age.
“In our modern times we have become obsessed with business and technology achievement. We have our computers, our smart phones, our tablet devices but we have lost touch with the soil.
“That is why it is wonderful to have places such as Tuppenny Barn where young people can come and touch the soil, plants seeds and watch the plants grow.
“Like Martin Luther King, I have a dream. Mine is that every school and university in Britain will have a garden”
In 1962, Satish walked from India to America via Moscow, London and Paris, on an 8,000 mile peace pilgrimage with no money, depending on the kindness and hospitality of strangers.
At the age of 50, he took to the road again, this time in the UK, where he completed a 2,000 mile walk to the holy places of Britain ‘as a celebration of his life and love of nature’.
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