books of the month likeyoulove
Search our site
The Heart of Mars by Paul Magrs Read the opening extract of the brand new Paul Magrs book before its publication on 15/03/2018

We Want Real Food by Graham Harvey

We Want Real Food

The Real World   
Download an extract Share this book

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

I am of an age where I can remember mutton, remember pork tasting special, remember chicken having a flavour, remember when our farm animals were fed from land rich in nutrients and minerals and our fruit and vegetables burst with flavour. Graham Harvey tells us why this isnât so any more and why so many illnesses and allergies affect us today. He also offers us a simple solution which makes obvious sense, something we can all do in our own gardens. This is an important book.
Who is Sarah Broadhurst


We Want Real Food by Graham Harvey

* In the past 50 years vegetables sold in the UK have lost 24% of their magnesium, 27% of their iron and 46% of their calcium

* Beef has fewer of the omega-3 fats that once made it a healthy food

* Milk from cows kept in sheds is depleted of vitamins and the cancer-fighting CLA that helped to make this a fitness food

Jamie Oliver's School Dinners, Rick Stein's Food Heroes, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's field-to-table fare at River Cottage - the message is all around us that good food, nutrition and health go hand in hand, and we must eat more fresh, unprocessed foods.

But no one admits that a prime cause of our poor health and social disorders is not just fast foods, but the source of our foods. Industrial farming depletes the soil of minerals so that even organic carrots can be tasteless and lack vitamins and essential trace elements. We are missing out on the nutrient-rich foods our bodies have evolved to need.

Impassioned, outspoken, absorbing... Graham Harvey tells the story of how modern food production has brought us to the brink of disaster -- how the widespread use of nitrate fertilizers emerged from the same chemical furnace as the explosives used in World War 1, how in World War II collusion between the chemical industry and government led to changes in farming practice that have resulted in a massive decline in health. The campaign for real food begins with us, whether we shop at farmers' markets, organic suppliers or supermarkets. Harvey sets out what we can do to win the fight-back for food that will stop us being overfed and undernourished - in fact, for real food.


Explains clearly that we can all make a change in what we eat and radically improve our health. * The Ecologist * A passionate, well argued and thought-provoking book * The Independent on Sunday *

About the Author

Graham Harvey

Graham Harvey is an author and scriptwriter. His books include The Killing of the Countryside and The Forgiveness of Nature - the story of grass.

Below is a Q & A with this author.

Are you saying fresh foods aren’t healthy?
Fresh foods grown on fertile soils should be among the finest foods you can eat. Unfortunately many soils have been damaged by years of intensive, chemical farming. This means the crops they grow don’t always contain the nutrients they used to.

What nutrients in particular?
Essential minerals are often present at lower levels than they ought to be. Minerals – sometimes referred to as trace elements – are required in very small amounts, but they are essential to health. One recent study showed that minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium are now at much lower levels in vegetables than they were 50 years ago.

Does this matter?
Some experts say it doesn’t. They claim we rely on other foods such as meat and fish for the bulk of our mineral intake. But historic studies of healthy peoples around the world showed that their daily intakes of vitamins and minerals were many times higher than in our modern diets. Therefore it must make sense to maximise our intake of these nutrients from all sources.

If we don’t rely on fresh vegetables for minerals why are these foods said to be good for us?
Plant foods contain a huge range of biologically-active compounds that play a key role in maintaining health. Together they are known as phyto-nutrients. Many minerals are required by plant cells to make these compounds, so if mineral levels are low there’s a good chance that the plant will be depleted in a whole range of other health-protecting substances.

Does this include vitamins?
It may do. The vitamin levels of many everyday foods are depleted because of the way they’re grown. For example, the wheat used in everything from bread to breakfast cereals ought to be rich in vitamin E plus vitamins of the B-complex. But many commercial wheat crops are grown on soils damaged by heavy inputs of chemical fertilizer and are sprayed with a battery of pesticides and growth hormones. This kind of treatment does nothing to enhance the vitamin content of the final product.

How about animal products – milk, for instance?
Milk and dairy products like butter and cheese ought to be high on our list of healthy foods. Properly produced they contain a huge range of health-giving nutrients such as vitamins – particularly the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E – minerals, and essential fats such as omega-3s the cancer-fighting CLA. But to provide these nutrients in substantial amounts, the dairy cow needs to spend much of her life on pasture, the natural food for cattle. Under the current economic system it has paid farmers to take their cows off pasture and keep them in sheds for much of the year, feeding them on unsuitable foods such as grain and soya meal. This modern style of management has seriously eroded the nutritional value of milk and dairy products.

Is modern beef any better?
Unfortunately it’s a similar story. For healthy beef, cattle need to be fed mainly on fresh grass, or - in winter – on hay or silage made from clover-rich pastures. But many are fed large amounts of grain and soya producing meat that is laden with far less healthy fat.

You make it sound as though modern farming is a disaster?
In Britain the subsidy system has led farmers to produce the wrong kinds of food in the wrong ways. They’ve been paid to produce as much as possible with insufficient regard to food quality. As a nation we’re now paying the price in ill health.

Isn’t it enough to buy organic food?
Not if you want the very best nutrition. Organic farmers use no chemical fertilizers or pesticide sprays, and are more likely to take care of their soils. However, there’s no guarantee that organic produce will be richer in health-giving nutrients than other good farming systems. When you don’t know the origins of farm foods, organic provides a basic safeguard. But for the healthiest foods you need to look further. For example, the healthiest milk comes from cows grazing fertile grassland for most of their productive lives. The rules on organic milk production don’t require that cows are kept mostly on pasture.their crops will be well mineralised – there could be a structure.

Are you saying the poor farming practises are responsible for a lot of the country’s chronic ill health?
No, but they contribute to it. Food processors are responsible for stripping out many essential nutrients in their drive to sell us convenience foods and snacks. Consumers also play their part by failing to make sensible food choices. But even notorious fast food such as burgers and pizzas could be a lot healthier if the quality of raw materials going into them were higher. And that’s got a lot to do with how they’re produced on the farm.

Is there any realistic chance of changing things?
There’s every chance. It would only take a relatively few people to start asking questions in their local supermarkets about how their foods are produced. Things could change very quickly. The supermarkets are very responsive to what they see as emerging consumer trends.

And how would things change on the farm?
We need to see what a retired farmer once described as “a return to quality”. There’s no magic about it. It’s basically a return to traditional farming which seems to be far better at feeding people well than the industrial, “commodity” approach. Farmers need to start producing “nutrient-rich” foods instead of the dumbed-down, mass-produced stuff they supply now.

So there are tough times ahead for farming?
Changing direction is never easy, but producing healthier food will give most family farmers a brighter future than the present system of “commodity” foods. The current struggle to produce everything at rock-bottom prices will drive most farmers out of business, leaving just a few big players. A policy of producing healthy, quality foods will secure the future for family farms and not just a handful of industrial producers.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

23rd February 2006


Graham Harvey

More books by Graham Harvey
Author 'Like for Like'

Author's Website

Author's Facebook Latest

Loading facebook updates...
Loading twitter updates...


Constable And Robinson


448 pages


Cookery / food & drink etc
Fitness & diet



Books of the month/debuts of the month, kids/adults, fiction/non-fiction, free prize draws and free extracts, what's not to love?

Emma Smith

The books for review are always great reads, brilliantly written, and introduces me to a huge variety of, established and new, authors.

Lesley Hart

At Lovereading there are fabulous books available in every genre, with great reviews to help you pick the right book for you.

Teresa O'Halloran

Lovereading helps me decide what real people read.

Kerry Bridges

It gives a chance to read about new titles, invites comments from all kinds of readers and is run by such a nice bunch of book lovers.

Joy Bosworth

It's the first site that I visit when deciding on the next set of books to buy. A particular treat is being able to download an extract.

Tessa Olson

Lovereading recommends, honestly reviews and promotes books-what more can I say?!

Rachel Bridgeman

I love Lovereading because I get to read great books and then get to tell everybody how good they are.

Sally Doel