Last month, the UK’ Environment Agency published figures which showed that only 14% of rivers, streams and lakes in England can be designated “ecologically healthy”. The remaining 86% fail to meet standards for “pollution safety”.
The three main sources of pollution of these waterways are industrial waste, sewage and agrochemicals used in intensive farming.
The UK government had previously set a target for all water bodies in England to be rated as in “good condition” by 2027, but experts now say that promise is meaningless and unachievable.
River pollution in the UK is the worst in Europe. Brexit is highly unlikely to lead to any improvement: before it first joined the EU the UK was called “the dirty man” of Europe because of its appalling pollution levels.
The shocking state of our rivers, streams and lakes has been exacerbated by government cuts to the Environment Agency’s monitoring workforce, which has taken our waterways to the verge of regulatory collapse.
But the fundamental problem is the polluters themselves.
The body which represents UK water companies, Water UK, has said most of the pollution is caused by farming. Excess fertiliser applied to farmland simply runs off into our waterways.
These agrochemicals are causing catastrophic long-term damage to the ecosystems of British waterways. Just imagine what long-term harm we may be doing to our bodies each time we consume food that has been produced with their use.
This recipe, in which I’ve used home grown organic carrots, could not be easier and produces a quick but delicious pickle that can be used in sandwiches, on burgers or as an accompaniment to a variety of dishes.
quick carrot pickle
100 g organic carrots
150 ml cider vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp black pepper corns
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1. Peel the carrots then cut into very thin slices using a mandolin, sharp knife or vegetable peeler.
2. Whisk the sea salt into the cider vinegar until dissolved, then stir in the maple syrup, black pepper corns, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaf, dried thyme and dried oregano.
3. Place the peeled carrots in a bowl and pour the vinegar and spice mixture over them, ensuring they are covered. Leave to marinate for as long as possible, preferably a minimum of 24 hours to allow the flavour to develop. You can place the pickled carrots in a sterile jar or other container with the marinade and keep in the fridge until needed. Stored this way, the pickle will last for 3-4 weeks.