A Self Sufficient Life
I Stumbled on this site last night whilst doing a bit of research for this blog posting. It really is worth a look and your support if you are so inclined. Their article on GM modified crop pollen started me thinking about an issue that affects us directly, nitrates. We are, I guess like many on the self sufficiency trail, asset rich and cash poor, which means any opportunity for a free meal is a good one and not to be missed.
One of our favorite free meals is mussels. They are a pleasure to collect, being a really good excuse for spending time at the seaside, and are for us almost a complete meal we can produce without buying in anything as we substitute our cider for the wine to cook them in and can produce just about everything else needed.
But there is a dark cloud on this horizon, chemical fertilizers. Although this does not directly affect the mussels themselves, it basically feeds the green algae in the water around them which then dies and rots quite naturally, but in unnatural quantities, which then builds up pollutants in the water and the mussels then soak up the pollutants in the water making the mussels dangerous to eat.
This problem is serious enough for the local papers to print a health warning about collecting and eating mussels from effected beaches, and I am told notices appear in the Maries office (town council office) local to the beaches most effected. Both of these measures, although laudable, are really only effective if A. you read enough French to understand the notice, or B. if you regularly visit the Office of the Marie before going to the beach. If you are a tourist or even a nonnative French speaker it is very easy to miss the warnings.
Now I am aware of the arguments put forward for the need for increased productivity of farms and farm acreage I was born and lived in the over-crowded south east of England and worked for many years around London, Oxford, Brighton and quite a few other major cities, so I have seen the overcrowded housing and tiny gardens therefore understand that not everybody has either the volition or the space to grow their own, and therefore there is a need for the supermarkets to be able to source produce readily and in abundance to feed the needs of the overpopulated areas of Europe. But is there really no alternative to the artificial fertilizers commonly in use? Okay I know there is, but are they as effective, and as cost effective because if they are not is there really a solution to what is potentially a serious health problem?