Grumpy Old Birder

Bo Be­olens is quite happy to pay more for his weekly food shop if it means pro­tect­ing wildlife

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - Bo Be­olens runs fat­ and other web­sites. He has writ­ten a num­ber of books

Bo’s pay­ing more for his food shop­ping in a bid to pro­tect wildlife

WE RE­CENTLY DE­CIDED to change what we eat. I’m still a non-meat eater mar­ried to a car­ni­vore and we still shop at the same su­per­mar­kets. The dif­fer­ence is that we have gone over to only buy­ing or­ganic veg (and in my wife’s case, meat). More­over, wher­ever pos­si­ble (and it some­times adds half an hour to the av­er­age shop), we want Bri­tish grown or­ganic food. I still be­lieve that eat­ing or­gan­ics is health­ier for us, de­spite the re­search a year or two back claim­ing there is no dif­fer­ence. But the de­ci­sion was prompted not by our own health so much as that of birds and other wildlife. So, while I don’t mind aid­ing the health of Peru­vian pi­geons or Pol­ish plovers, I’d rather be help­ing good old Bri­tish Bullfinches and, per­haps even more im­por­tantly, putting the buzz back into Bri­tish bees! It has be­come ever more ap­par­ent that pes­ti­cides are nowhere near as ‘tar­geted’ as man­u­fac­tur­ers claim. Bees and other pol­li­na­tors face a dou­ble jeop­ardy… of­ten they will die the in­stant they are caught in the spray. How­ever, even more in­sid­i­ous is the ef­fect some pes­ti­cides have in the longer term. Neon­i­coti­noids and coumaphos, dam­age bees’ brains so that they ‘for­get’ flora scents or col­lec­tion routes. Car­ried into the hives they af­fect the growing lar­vae, over time pop­u­la­tions drop or lose their ef­fec­tive­ness as pollen col­lec­tors and the swarm slowly dies off, long af­ter the ini­tial con­tact with the poi­sons. Short-term prof­its lead to whole­sale use of chem­i­cals that could lead to our own doom, too, so even those who care noth­ing for an­i­mal life should start to worry. Right now, of course, we are all squeezed fi­nan­cially, our farm­ers barely sur­vive su­per­mar­ket dik­tats and over­seas com­pe­ti­tion and many fam­i­lies sur­vive only through their vis­its to food banks. Those of us who are less strapped have no ex­cuse and have to lead the way. If we all started to de­mand home-grown wildlife­friendly food and shopped Bri­tish when­ever we can, we could make a dif­fer­ence. Our govern­ment spends huge amounts of our money sub­si­dis­ing all the wrong sorts of farm­ing prac­tice… if we could edge that side­ways a bit it could make a tremen­dous dif­fer­ence. It’s in­cred­i­ble that so many of us feed birds and yet at the same time poi­son our­selves and them by the whole­sale use of one of the worst chem­i­cal coshes about – glyphosate! The chem­i­cal kills weeds by dis­rupt­ing their ‘shikimic acid path­ways’, pre­vent­ing them from growing and pro­duc­ing new cells. When in­gested by mam­mals (us) it dis­rupts the pro­duc­tion of a vi­tal en­zyme called cy­tochrome P450, the func­tion of which is to help us detox­ify. This in turn can lead to the build-up of tox­ins that cause a whole gamut of organ dam­age. I doubt many of you set out to buy this nox­ious chem­i­cal… but take a look at the con­tent list on the back of the most ad­ver­tised and widely-used gar­den weed killers and you are sure to find it there.

While I don’t mind aid­ing the health of Peru­vian pi­geons or Pol­ish plovers, I’d rather be help­ing good old Bri­tish Bullfinches

OR­GANIC Bo avoids foods which are grown us­ing pes­ti­cides

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