Andy Cato on a tractor (A Story About Bread – Wildfarmed)
A musician and a former TV presenter are aiming to start a food revolution to ensure making a meaningful contribution towards tackling the climate crisis is as easy as choosing a pizza.
Groove Armada’s Andy Cato and former Big Brother’s Little Brother host George Lamb run Wildfarmed, a company which aims to change the way food is produced.
The methods they use and encourage include growing crops alongside other plants in pastures and allowing cattle to graze there, essentially replicating natural processes.
The flour and therefore bread produced is more nutritious and tasty, they say, and benefits the environment both in terms of biodiversity and in the amount of carbon from the atmosphere being captured by the soil.
Mr Cato told the PA news agency: “It’s a way of growing which gets as close as possible to natural systems basically… rather than treating nature as the enemy and fighting against it.”
Tuesday sees the release of a short film, A Story About Bread, which aims to tell the story of Wildfarmed – and does so with some strong language reflecting the passion for the subject matter.
The journey began 15 years ago when Mr Cato read an article about industrial food production which he said “wasn’t very pleasant reading”.
He was struck by the line “if you don’t like the system don’t depend on it”, which led him to grow his own vegetables and eventually to him selling his publishing rights to buy a farm near where his family were living in south-west France.
In trying to get that land to be productive, he tried various different crops and methods before coming across the way he is now working.
“On the face of it, it was everything you’d hoped for from a regenerative farm,” he said.
“Except that when George came over to visit just as friends, and we zoomed out from the farm, all of the area around it was still largely being ploughed, and sprayed, and all of the things that go hand in hand with chemical-based agriculture.”
Some of the fields around him have been so stripped of nutrients by commercial farming, Mr Cato said, that barely anything will grow in them at all – but using more natural techniques can help to restore them.
In part to address the issue, he formed Wildfarmed along with Mr Lamb and another friend Edd Lees, a successful financier who quit working in the city to get involved.
They aim to make it easier and more appealing to adopt regenerative and restorative farming practices and to provide a marketplace of sorts for those farmers who are doing so.
They also aim to “empower activist consumers with the message that your food choices are the single biggest way for most people to intervene and become part of the solution to the ecological and climate crisis that we’re faced with”, Mr Cato said.
“In other words, every time you buy food, you shape the future of the planet.”
Mr Lamb came to the project having become disillusioned with his own career in the media.
He said he found Mr Cato’s project “fascinating” the moment he heard about it, and subsequently went to visit his farm in France.
“And the next thing you know, we’ve got 40 farms between Cumbria and Cornwall farming under our methods and 20 people in an office and 100 different outlets selling our bread and we’re having a go at it,” he said.
Mr Lamb hopes having the Wildfarmed products more widely available will also help consumers connect with the issue of the climate crisis.
“If you can’t engage day to day with something simple that will actually change things that are meaningful, nothing’s going to change,” Mr Lamb said.
“It becomes too abstract and it’s out there. In the end, you’re just getting in a panic and there’s an ecological mega crisis and I don’t know what to do and I’ve never been to the Amazon and I don’t know about Antarctica.
“If you can say to people ‘go and have a pizza, but just choose this one instead of that one, and you can be part of the solution’, that’s how change happens.”
– Watch A Story About Bread and discover more about Wildfarmed at: https://wildfarmed.co.uk/