Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Youse takin' the Mickey?

An article in today's Metro has annoyed me.  In it the Potato Council, an industry lobby, blames gardeners and allotment keepers for this year's high incidence of late blight.  There are many things wrong with this position.

  1. Late blight is a fungus.  Fungi like warm (but not too hot), moist, and preferably dark conditions.  The Met Office reckon 2012 saw a mild Winter followed by a Summer that was hot yet cooler than average, cloudier than average, and with unprecedented rainfall keeping it very moist.  In that weather it's amazing that stones didn't catch infections, never mind the tatties.  
  2. Agribusiness don't grow the healthiest crops to begin with.  They grow monocultures which drain the soil of nutrition whilst providing the perfect environment for disease to flourish.  Combine that with the Summer we've had and it's no wonder the spuds are going nasty.  
  3. Farms are out in the countryside, surrounded by other farms.  Allotments are in the cities, surrounded by houses.  There are a lot of miles to cover between a city allotment and a country farm.  How on Earth is a disease of potatoes - a famously sedentary species - communicated between urban tubers and their rural counterparts?
Still, the comments aren't a surprise.  Industry supports industry, after all, and the prime culprit - the weather - is the fault of climate change; a byproduct of the manufacturing, petrochemical and automotive industries.  For agribusiness to call these industries out for knackering the 'tater harvest would readily lead to a case of legal Mutually Assured Destruction, from which only lawyers and journos would profit.  

Furthermore, every home gardener growing potatoes is one fewer person buying potatoes.  Us arable gardeners are literally eating the profits of agribusiness, we are their enemy, so it is little wonder they would use the failings of big business as a means of attacking us as "irresponsible".  The statement "it would be preferable if people bought healthy potatoes from their retailer rather than grow their own" is most telling.

Take good care of your potatoes, burn any that show signs of blight, but don't stop growing just because the weather's bad for business!  When agribusiness feels the need to distort the truth and ignore the science just to attack the home gardener and the allotment keeper then it becomes apparent that the edaphic revolution has gained more ground than industry is comfortable with.  

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is my first post to reach 100 pageviews.