I think I saw 3 episodes of this show and I enjoyed it tremendously. I can make my own judgements about what I see and I thank Jimmy Doherty for not deciding for me what is and isn't acceptable. Some of it made my stomach turn, but I quite liked the farmer who moved his cows every day to a new field and after 4 days put his mega-chicken-tractor on the used field to clean up after the cows, eating all the parasite eggs and scratching in the dung to spread it around. And the lady scientist who propagates and sells disease free banana plants so that local farmers increase thier yields tremendously.
I believe that a lot of what many people generally believe is 'green' just blatantly isn't. baking my own bread, I use much more electricity/resources than buying it from the store, even if you factor in transport and packaging. There's much energy and resources to be gained by mass producing. The villages who used communal ovens to collectively bake their bread had that figured out already and were taking the first steps towards where we are now.
Heating/cooking on wood is supposed to be green, but personally I doubt it. It's only renewable if you know for sure that the wood you're getting is from carefully managed woodlands. After all we (humans) have deforested large areas in prehistoric times. We could never all switch to wood burning for heating and cooking, for pretty soon there wouldn't be a tree to be found. So how sustainable is it? And the dust/fine particle problem is not to be ignored.
Wood-burning stoves have been a popular heating source for decades. Unfortunately, wood-burning stoves can emit substantial quantities of pollutants to outdoor and indoor air. Among the pollutants are: chlorinated dioxin, carbon monoxide, methane, volatile organic compounds (VOC), nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and fine particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5, fine and ultra fine particles). Recent studies indicate that the use of wood-burning stoves for heating of dwellings is one of the important outdoor particle sources [Glasius et al. 2004] in residential district in Denmark. This has resulted in an increase in public exposure to indoor and outdoor wood smoke related pollutants, which has prompted widespread concern about the adverse human health consequences that may be associated with wood smoke exposure.
Air pollution is a major aggravation of respiratory symptoms and disease. Effects are decreases in pulmonary function and evidence of inflammation as well as suggestions of increases in chronic respiratory disease. Orozco-Levi et al. (2006) showed strong association between wood smoke exposure and obstructive pulmonary disease. Several studies have shown that especially the small particles, has an effect on airways, and that asthmatic subjects may be the group at greatest risk from air pollutants. The awareness of the impact of airborne particles, particularly fine and ultra fine particles, on health is growing. In recent years, exposure to fine and ultra fine airborne particles has been identified as an important factor affecting human health [Seaton et al., 1995; Schwartz et al., 1996; Oberdörster et al., 1994; Alvin et al., 2000].
And this is just the health effect, without discussing the effects of extra particles in the atmosphere. I'm quite sure that if we used more solar collectors for warm water and, where feasible, heating, then supplemented that with natural gas for cooking or electricity from renewable resources, we'd be better off. That'd make the natural gas supply last much longer, so in the mean time we can think of other solutions.
Growing you own veg can be sustainable, but how many of us buy soil improvers (compost, manure, lime, organic pellet this or that) in plastic bags? I do! Good grief, if I think of all the stuff I have bought to be gardening (25 different tools, bean poles, propagators, poly tunnel, netting, horticultural fleece, I have a ton of flower pots, kneel pads, gloves, slug traps, and all the stuff I bought for canning and preserving the harvest) I truly can't imagine it is sustainable. I know I reuse the flower pots, canning jars and the tools last a long time, but I wouldn't have needed all this 'stuff' if I didn't grow my own.
I've long since cured myself from the illusion that I am sustainable; more difficult was the realisation that to be sustainable I'd need to live at a subsistence level and I am just not prepared to do that. I want a warm house, good food (yes, some meat too), cats (very unsustainable), a car and cow manure in a plastic bag. I will use lots of energy and resources growing and preserving my own harvest and baking my own bread. I'll do a bit to make me feel better about it: insulate the house, take the bike when I can, turn out the lights, perhaps get solar collectors or PV panels, not fly to tropical destinations twice a year, and that helps.
So, I got carried away quite a bit. Apologies. But returning to the subject: I think that it is very good for a programme that shows how in different part of the world, different people do agriculture. And I liked the fact that Doherty showed respect for all the interviewed farmers and tried to look at it from a positive side, even if he made it clear to the viewer that he wouldn't choose to do it their way.