Llaeth Crai – my own revolution

Democracy is a great thing – we all get to vote periodically and select the people who will lead our country. And then we get to moan about them, see them hand power to unelected organisations, and basically do a bunch of things that make us unhappy.

How would you feel, however, about getting to cast a vote everyday? How would you like to make choices that would have a direct effect on the country, the economy, your community? Does this appeal to you? What if I told you that you were already doing it? Well, you are – every time you spend money, you are casting a vote. You are choosing the sort of world you want and you are choosing the businesses that you want to thrive. Most of us don’t have unlimited money and so we have to prioritise where we spend it. Unless you are living in poverty you have a multitude of choices and  encourage you to think about their implications.

Always buying the very latest Smartphone means you are supporting a multinational company that exploits its workers and plunders the earth for raw materials, adversely affecting lives and the natural world. And this is your choice – no one is forcing you to make it. Alternatively, you could keep the phone you have and use the money that you would have spent on the new one to do some good, to support ethical companies, local producers or crafts people. But  what about everyday purchases? Lets think about food…

The people who feed us are getting shafted by the supermarkets and we need to make sure that this doesn’t happen Without our farmers, most of us would not have anything to eat and even those of us who produce some of our own food would be in dire straights. Dairy farming is a case in point – in the supermarket whole milk costs 45-80p per litre, but farmers currently only get paid about 22p. This means that dairy farming is right on the cusp of being viable, and many small farms are only able to make it pay because the family effectively works for next to nothing. And this matters – it matters because these people are often at the heart of our rural communities, because these people are the guardians of our land and because they are almost certainly being forced to work within an economic model that makes no sense to them.

Milk is produced across the UK, so why is it transported hundreds of miles around the country to be sold, packaged, resold and processed? Surely in these days when we need to minimise our use of fossil fuels, the best place for milk to be processed and consumed would be close to where it was produced?

So, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Several local farms in our area have started selling their milk direct, and so the other day I arranged to go to the closest one, Penlan y Môr, to make my first purchase. They sell raw (i.e. unpasteurised) whole milk in glass bottles:


Returnable glass bottles with screw caps

They will also put it in containers that you take yourself. There is no throw-away packaging and no unnecessary transport. As well as trying out the milk for general use, I wanted some for cheese-making. Apparently I am the first customer to turn up with my own churn…


My churn being filled

The cheese-making is currently underway – a hard cheddar-type and a soft curd cheese. It will be a few months before I can report on how the former turns out, but the curd cheese will be ready to taste tomorrow and I’ll be taking a sample back to the farm so that the family can taste what their milk can become.

Now that’s the type of thing I want to do to support my community and make the world the sort of place I want to live in. How about you?


My milk – positively shining in the sun!

Politics – head or heart?

In case you don’t know, here in the UK we are in the run-up to a general election. Because I don’t watch the television much, I’m not seeing many of the interviews/debates/sound-bites etc, which means that most of what I know comes from selected reading via the internet. I think this is the right choice because many journalists do seem to prefer sensational rather than balanced stories.

In the UK as a whole, the two main parties are the Conservatives (right wing) and Labour (left wing). However, in the constituency where I live neither of these parties ever get elected! Which means that, whichever government is in power, it’s unlikely to be one including my MP (unless there is a coalition ). This can be positive and negative. On the one hand, I feel that I’m not having a say in the ruling party, but on the other I probably wouldn’t vote for either of them anyway and so at least there is a chance that the person I do vote for will be successful and gain a seat in parliament.

I will be putting a mark on my ballot paper

I will be putting a mark on my ballot paper

In my heart I really want to vote for the Green party – many of their policies make sense to me and and they don’t seem to be swept along by the big business aspects of politics. I took the survey on the website Who Should You Vote For and it confirms that the Greens are where my allegiances lie. In addition, the local candidate lives just a few doors down from me in our street and this means I can pop round and have a chat if I feel like! However, my head is telling me that maybe I should vote tactically, which would mean selecting a different party. I still haven’t decided, but one thing is for sure – I will be voting.

A quick internet search reveals many opinions about whether we should vote or not, but I feel strongly that I want to engage with the system. An article in the Guardian from 2014 speaks to me about this subject:

The basis of social justice therefore has to be a state of permanent awareness, resistance and protest. The best you can do is to have an informed public engaged in a continuous struggle to maintain and improve on overall social welfare, human rights, human dignity and justice. In the absence of vigilance and protest, the rise of anti-democratic structures and barriers to social progress is inevitable…. each citizen needs to have a vision of what he or she wants our country and our world to be like. We should bring those visions to bear on our political engagement. If the major parties don’t sufficiently represent your vision, then vote for a minor party. If none of those represent your vision then sure, consider not voting as a part of a broader political strategy but don’t take the decision lightly. Simply taking your bat and ball and going home is unlikely to achieve anything on its own. (Warwick Smith)

I want to live in a country where we all have an equal say – men and women, rich and poor, young and old – so I will be exercising my democratic right and I hope you will do too next time you have the opportunity… even if that is by spoiling your ballot paper – an action that also sends a clear message.

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