I hope you are well.
ON THE FARM
I finally cleaned up the greenhouse and took out the tomato plants. I always find it difficult to pull out plants we have been nurturing for months. But the time had come for them to go to the great compost heap in the sky. I have started to clean out the irrigation pipes and drippers - which needs to be done regularly because of the hardness of the water. I soak the drippers in vinegar for a couple of days to unblock them and avoid using any chemicals etc.
When we arrived here about 3 years ago carobs were fetching about 12 euros for a 15 kg bag. The price this year has shot up and up. Two weeks ago I was offered 32 euro, and this week I was offered 38 euro for 15 KG! I've heard numerous explanations for the increase in price but none I have been able to verify. All of a sudden everyone is scrambling to take care of their long ignored carob trees! We were already looking after ours but I may plant a few new trees next year. :)
IN THE BASKET
The celery, chard, and spring onions are all looking good in the garden. And the first brocoli has arrived. And we have lovely lemons, Mandarins and oranges too. We also have Broccoli Romanesco, Chicory and Celeriac on the list this week.
IN THE NEWS
Recently there have been some large outbreaks of bird flu across Asia and Europe, and in some cases it has been reported that new strains are being passed to humans. As if we didn't have enough to worry about!
In every case these strains are mutating and becoming dangerous to humans because they are incubating in vast poultry farms with hundreds of thousands of birds crammed into tiny spaces. Apart from the terrible conditions in which these birds are forced to live, it is the perfect environment for viruses to spread, mutate and jump to humans.
I am sometimes asked why are my eggs so expensive. So I'd like to explain the egg-onomics of raising organic chickens. I have 17 chickens who produce about 85 eggs per week and I sell them all each week, so the eggs you buy are never more than a few days old. Each day the chickens are let out for a roam and they are fed organic food and greens from the garden all year around. Roughly speaking once the feed is paid for, at our current price of €2.75 for half a dozen eggs, each chicken earns us about one euro a week!
(In Lidl today in Portugal you can buy 30 eggs for €3.19, or €0.64 for half a dozen.
But, despite the low cost of supermarket eggs, it heartens me how many people are searching in the market for eggs from small back yard flocks. I am sold out every week, usually by 11:00 AM. And it's not just wealthy ex pats buying from me either.
I'm not sure how to conclude this egg-onomics lecture :) - other than to say I do not believe we can afford to assess the value of food production simply in terms of the final cost of the end product. Going forward we need to consider the impact industrial farming practices are having on the environment, our well-being and the well being of the animals we rely on. We need to find a way to feed everyone and look after the environment. Everything is interconnected and the profit incentive alone will not protect out planet for future generations.
OK that's all for this week. Have a great week.
Lots of love,