France has for several years been the crucible of a curious evolution of thought with regard to food. This does not mean that it is the only country where this phenomenon is observed, but it is probably the one where it is the most violent, the most extreme and also, what is more serious, the most institutionalized.
You know, my dear readers, that I am French, fruit-grower outside France, in Spain (more than one has called me a traitor).
I often pick up articles or comments from France. I hope that my 78% of non-French readers don't get tired of it.
But what is happening in France is exemplary of what should not be done or not allowed to be done.
I hope that the other countries will have the sufficient strength and intelligence not to let things slip in this way.
In the end, everyone loses, especially farmers, of course, but also all consumers, and ultimately 100% of the population. And that, not to mention the long-term environmental damage caused by these ideological drifts without any real scientific basis.
The French exception. French are proud to feel exceptional. There is a French exception concerning culture, a sort of resistance to the invasion of Anglo-American culture in literature and especially in film and music.
And as soon as a particular fact puts forward a characteristic of France compared to other countries, the French exception, always on a positive and rewarding aspect, is untiringly revealed.
It is true, there is currently a French exception. But this one is sly, negative and destructive. There is a real depravity in the relationship of civil society to its agriculture.
And I don't believe that French people have the right to feel proud of this relationship, close to the Inquisition, in which the only acceptable thought is organic, in which the manipulation of public opinion is cleverly orchestrated by lobbies that refuse to bear the name, in the form of "citizen movements" or environmental organizations, with the unconditional support of most media, television, radio, print and digital media, all under the benevolent gaze of politicians whatever their ideological orientation.
The situation has become so tense that farmers are able to oppose to each other. I observe, here in Spain, in my entourage, that there is a true complementarity between the different systems of production. Organic farming is becoming increasingly important, but it's not being done, or only rarely, as opposed to conventional agriculture, but rather as a different orientation, a deliberate choice, and above all an adaptation to an increasingly demanding market.
Spanish civil society is generally proud of its agriculture, its progress, its successes, its plurality and the quality of the food it's able to produce.
Agriculture in general is based on industrial agriculture, which is still present in certain sectors, particularly for certain crops such as cereals or cotton, towards more respectful agriculture, conservation agriculture, integrated production, or organic agriculture.
There is no reason to bring the methods of production in opposition. They are complementary. The only real necessary evolutions are those related to soil erosion, soil and water quality, use of water reserves, and pollution problems. But for that, I have already spoken several times, the best way is not only organic farming.
I just read a very interesting book, short, concise, very clear, easy to read, much documented, very informative for anyone who wants to accept the findings.
"Plaidoyer pour nos agriculteurs" (Plea for our farmers) is written by Sylvie Brunel and published in French in the collection "Dans le vif" by Buchet Chastel.
I am now proposing the preface, which sums up the situation well, and my opinion on a non-agricultural problem, but with enormous implications.
"A cry of alarm and a plea.
For 20 years, I worked in NGOs that were facing severe food crises. We were fighting against famine and chronic hunger, which continues to affect millions of people around the world.
Compared to the magnitude of the problem, our means were derisory. Nevertheless, we saved lives and served as sentinels, alerting the world about forgotten victims. Hunger is a silent killer that abundance made us forget, while it's still raging where poverty and lack of resources remain realities.
And then I came back to work in France. And there, I discovered a situation that stunned me: those who feed us are mistreated. Not a day when agricultural labor is nailed to the pillory. Thanks to it however, our very small country has gained its food independence and has even become a major exporter of food. But while the "France brand" remains in many countries of the world a sign of quality, as far as wines are concerned, but also seeds, dairy products, cereals, beef and apples, French berate their agriculture, taking the risk of seeing it disappear.
I had to understand. Confront my experience of hunger there with the reality of the campaigns here. So I went to see how these criticized farmers work. I traveled through rural France, spoke with hundreds of people, visited numerous farms. I questioned, I investigated. Without bias and with tenacity.
Everywhere, I saw enthusiasts, men and women who love their craft and make every effort to deliver quality food. Farmers, fruit-growers, breeders who devote their lives to their farms, their fields, their orchards, their animals. And who suffer terribly to feel so despised, so misunderstood.
This book is a cry of alarm and a plea. Have we forgotten the fear of missing? Do we still know what it is to fall ill, or even die poisoned, because of an inadequate diet?
As the climate changes and the population continues to increase, it is urgent that we change our attitude to save our countryside and those who feed us. We're pressed for time."
I strongly advise reading this short work, disrupting for those interested in food, agriculture, the environment, and for those who wish or accept to question certain values commonly accepted in Western societies. A great kick in the received ideas.
The book does not take sides for one ideology or another. It dissects an increasingly complex and difficult situation in which the public, but also farmers themselves, are having more and more trouble to tell the truth from the untruth.
Sylvie Brunel talks about pesticides, residues, GMOs, pollution, but also demographic, political, commercial and even geopolitical changes.
She explains problems and mistakes of the past, but also evolutions and changes that have been made or are under way, all the progress and the profound changes that agriculture has made.
She talks about health risks and food safety.
Agricultural problematic affects all this and today's political and ideological decisions, often guided by emotional, ideological, but non-scientific motives, will have many serious consequences in the future.
And even though this book is very centered on French agriculture, the vast majority of informations it contains can be extrapolated to many other countries in the world.
Unfortunately, as far as I know, it has not yet been translated and is therefore only available in French.
It is unfortunate. I will perhaps take other passages in the future, to translate them, in order to let you enjoy the power of analysis of Sylvie Brunel.