Essays from “Colin’s Corner”, 2010-2016

The following are essays rescued from the old Colin’s Corner — the column I wrote for the erstwhile Campaign for Real Farming website, which is now superseded by the websites of The College for Real Farming and Food Culture and The Real Farming Trust. The pieces shown here were written between 2010 and 2016 but then I took time out to write The Great Re-Think. Some of the old originals are more or less timeless and have been shifted into the appropriate section of The Big Idea page. The ones shown here as Archives are of their time but still contain some thoughts of a more or less timeless nature, and/or provide some of the backstory to the present. In the following, the published pieces are arranged thematically for easy access. 


Global Food Strategy: Power, Lies, and the Need for Agrarian Renaissance

How can we hope to rescue the world when global polices are rooted in untruths?

Let’s Tell It Like It Is

The Oxford Farming Conference and the Oxford Real Farming Conference have now ended. Colin Tudge, closely involved with the ORFC, is recovering from post-conference depression.

The Renaissance begins here

Colin Tudge argues that we, people at large, Ordinary Joes, need to take the world’s affairs in hand and start all over again.

Death by self-satisfaction: Why the wrong people are in charge of the world’s food supply and what we can do about it

We should be angrier than we seem to be. The world is in a horrible mess and it needn’t be. Above all, everyone who is ever likely to be born could be fed to the highest standards, and without wrecking the rest of the world. We human beings and our fellow creatures could be looking […]

The Goal

Why genes are not selfish and people are nice

In my latest book I suggest that if we want to put the world to rights we have to re-think all the big ideas that underpin our lives. Agriculture demonstrates in spades why this is so.

Enlightened Agriculture 

Milk, India’s Cotton, and a World Economy Disastrously Off-Course

Colin Tudge argues that to solve the problems of Britain’s dairy farmers – indeed of all farmers – we must dig deep and go on digging; and cannot rely on the world’s present leaders.

Micro-dairies: Today – eccentric. Tomorrow – the norm

The following, first posted in 2017, was and is a general intro to the idea of micro-dairies. It was written for the excellent soon-to-be-launched on-line magazine/website Nourish, based in Brazil. But it was prompted by a two-day meeting at Monkton Wyld in Dorset, organized by Simon Fairlie, micro-dairy farmer and editor of The Land, which for everyone interested in farming, or trying to make sense of the state of the world, is essential reading. The article is now five years old but the general message is still relevant.

Brexit and after: that was the revolution that was

Colin Tudge proposes a way forward which is, of course, a million miles from what our new government has in mind.

Inequality and the Price of Food

Oxfam told the World Economic Forum in Davos that tax havens are largely to blame for the vast gap between rich and poor. But the problem runs deeper, says Colin Tudge. We have to think again from first principles.

Farming needs entrepreneurs – but beware!

Colin Tudge questions the wisdom of a new report on entrepreneurship.

We can’t control floods – or drought! – unless we involve the farmers

— and that needs a government that governs.

How farming can lead the world out of its present mess

How do we solve the dilemma – that machines make life easier, which is good, but also put people out of work, which isn’t? Colin Tudge suggests that farming at least can resolve the issue – which surely has relevance for everything else that we do.

The Key Ideas of Enlightened Agriculture (with a passing reference to Ancient China)

Colin Tudge asks why we fail to adopt the simple and established ideas that could solve all the world’s food problems – starting with the need to raise the status of farming and farmers.

A National Agricultural Policy

An open letter from Colin Tudge urging all political parties to start taking farming seriously before the next election.

Is Agroecology natural? Is natural good?

Colin Tudge argues in the teeth of learned objections that the answer to both questions is “Yes”

Big Government, Big Business, Big Science, and “Sustainable Intensification”

Last year Tara Garnett of the Food Climate Research Network and Professor Charles Godfray of Oxford University published a report on “Sustainable intensification in agriculture: Navigating a course through competing food system priorities” — based on a two-day workshop with 30 “key thinkers” held in January 2012. To the great credit of all concerned, outsiders were invited to comment on the report – and their remarks are now published online (1). My own (Colin Tudge’s) comments on behalf of the Campaign for Real Farming, are published below.

Britain needs more farmers — so why not become one?

Everyone should think about farming as a career.

What when it’s at home is sustainable intensification?

What does DEFRA’s latest buzz-word actually mean?

Enlightened Agriculture — or Agrochemistry al fresco?

Colin Tudge argues that the latest row surrounding neonicotinoids merely shows how wide of the mark agricultural strategies really are.

On January 24 2011 the British Government’s  Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and the  Government Office for Science published a “Foresight” report called The Future of Food and Farming based on the deliberations of a large group of experts chaired by the then Chief Government  Scientist Sir John Beddington. In the following weeks and months I wrote several pieces on the Beddington report, including the following three:

Why the World needs small mixed farms
– and plenty of farmers to run them

Supporters of Sir John Beddington’s The Future of Food and Farming claim that the report is all-embracing and even “holistic”, integrating all the various means by which food is produced into one grand pluralistic plan. In truth it is no such thing. Many possibilities are mentioned but mostly in footnotes, while the central narrative has […]

Further thoughts on Sir John Beddington’s Foresight Report

Plenty of expert input but far short of the “paradigm shift” the world needs!

“The Future of Food and Farming” equals more of the same

The government Chief Scientist demands “a redesign of the whole food system” but recommends business as usual.

Food Culture

Horseburgers, snow-bound sheep, and why we need to get serious

In February Britain was treated to the horseburger saga. Bits of gee-gee were found in miscellaneous “beef products” in various supermarkets. Some burgers were horse all the way through; it was hard to find any beef at all. Some of the outcomes of the whole fiasco were predictable, and some were good; many people for […]


Do we need a “New Agrarian” Party?

The day after the 2015 General Election, while the votes are still being counted, Colin Tudge asks how to bring about the much needed transformation of Britain’s and the World’s farming.

The Economy 

Inequality and the Price of Food

Oxfam told the World Economic Forum in Davos that tax havens are largely to blame for the vast gap between rich and poor. But the problem runs deeper, says Colin Tudge. We have to think again from first principles.

An economy fit for farming

At the January 2014 Oxford Real Farming Conference we will discuss the kind of economy that’s needed to support Enlightened Agriculture and all that goes with it. Here, Colin Tudge offers preliminary thoughts.

Life after neoliberalism

Has “free market” economics really “lifted millions out of poverty”? Or is this yet another example of wishful thinking in high places?

The Law of the Land 

A People’s Buy-Out of Britain’s Farmland

Why don’t we – the British people – buy all Britain’s agricultural land so that it can truly be farmed for our benefit?


As they say in Yorkshire, The Royal Society should think on

The Royal Society has issued a new report supporting GMOs. But does the Roy Soc really understand the issues?

When Do Scholars Become Advocates?

Colin Tudge asks whether science has become a dishonourable profession

Owen Paterson, GMOs, and Agrarian Renaissance

Britain’s Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs now tells us that those who oppose Syngenta’s Golden Rice are “wicked”. But what are the real reasons behind his zeal for high-tech?

New research shows that cows do better indoors than outside – but does that justify mega-dairies?

Can we – should we? — rely on science and economics to tell us what is worth doing and what is not?