Jez Fredenburgh

I’m a British journalist, editor, and communications advisor, specialising in food, farming, sustainability, and travel. I write for the BBC, National Geographic, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Weekly, Wicked Leeks, Vice, and many other publications. I also help organisations tell their stories and better communicate to the press, public, and policy makers. I've worked with WWF, the Sustainable Food Trust, the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, the Food Farming and Countryside Commission, Soil Association, African Development Bank, Co-operative Bank, NFU, and the Prince’s Countryside Fund among others. I currently live in the UK and travel widely in the name of a good story – and good food. 

More about my work

Selected stories

From Portugal to Chile – the race to predict extreme wildfires

Across the Atlantic in Pedrógão Grande, as early evening approached, thick smoke blocked the sun and made it difficult for the villagers to see or breathe. The fire sucked air towards it, generating wind speeds of up to 117km/h (73mph) and rocking cars in a nearby municipality. Still the flames charged on, now devouring 4,460 hectares (17sq miles) of forest an hour. But the most dramatic, dangerous moment was still to come. At about 8pm, the dark cloud of smoke – now 13km (8 miles) high – "collapsed" through its plume, sending cold air whooshing down to the base of the fire and fanning it with oxygen...

Sustainability metrics and their role in the future of global food competition

Imagine a world where every farm – from a Scottish beef producer to a Kenyan green bean grower – measures their sustainability using a universal set of criteria, agreed by every nation on Earth. This could be used by farmers to benchmark, add premiums to sustainable produce, and sell their natural capital to the private sector. For Scottish livestock farming, with its wealth of natural resources, grasslands to sequester carbon, and potential for sustainable production, this system could help the sector tell its story better, stand out from the crowd, and show consumers that home-grown meat can be part of a sustainable diet...

Can meat production be part of a sustainable food system?

Prof Geoff Simm, director of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security at The University of Edinburgh, speaks to Jez Fredenburgh....There needs to be a more nuanced, well-rounded debate about livestock and the food system, which balances the pros and cons, says Prof Simm. Every location, farm, and even animal, is different, so there is no silver bullet to this complex issue, and improving one thing can simply displace the impact to elsewhere. Developing better information and metrics could help farmers and consumers make better choices.

Regenerative farming legend Gabe Brown on healing your soil and your soul

Gabe Brown, regenerative farming legend and pioneer, speaks to Jez Fredenburgh about the power of regenerative farming to heal your soil and your soul. After hail and drought destroyed his crops four years in a row, Gabe decided to farm differently. He went on a huge learning curve, changing his mindset entirely, and getting to know his farm in a way he never had before – as an ecosystem reliant on fundamental, universal ecological principles, rather than a "chemistry set". He now travels the world advising on regen farming, and has been named one of the 25 most influential agricultural leaders in the United States.

Russian army targets food production in Ukraine

An Eastern European agricultural organisation has issued a plea to farmers and agricultural companies across Europe to help get aid to Ukraine, where Russian troops have stepped up attacks on the farming sector. Maksym Kryvonis, executive director of the Eastern European Agricultural Alliance (EEAA), which is based in Warsaw but has members across 10 countries in the region including Ukraine, said Russia was now targeting agricultural production to weaken the country’s food security. “The biggest problem right now is where Russian troops are – some fields have mines, and there are already cases of farmers killed because they cannot identity them...”

The ‘invisible’ women at the heart of the chocolate industry

In the cacao orchards of Ivory Coast, women do most of the work for just a small portion of the income. Now, they are calling time on patriarchal attitudes. Rosine Bekoin has been farming cacao for more than a decade, but it’s only since graduating from a pioneering leadership school that she’s had control over the money she earns. She describes her transformation as "day and night". Women play a critical role in the country’s cacao sector – the biggest in the world and the key raw ingredient to make cocoa powder, the basis of the $110bn (£85bn) global chocolate industry.

How Ecuador is falling back in love with chocolate

Woodsmoke. Oregano. Beef. This is chocolate like I’ve never tasted it before. But there’s a good reason for that — it’s made using Ecuador’s rarest and oldest variety of cacao and aged in barrels and boxes. I crack open a chest made from Spanish elm and peek inside at the dark coins — button-shaped pieces of untempered chocolate that will be melted and turned into bars. I’m hit by an aroma of sweet, smoky paprika, mixed with a touch of citrus. Someone else detects fresh hay. We taste a piece and agree, curiously, that it has a hint of camembert.

Could regenerative farming revolutionise the Scottish livestock sector?

A quiet movement is happening on farms across the country – a growing interest and transition towards regenerative agriculture. For Scottish farming with its wealth of natural resources, the potential to optimise production, improve profitability, and build environmental resilience, is huge, say practitioners. “We're exploring the possibilities of regenerative agriculture and gathering as much information as possibly, because it's very clear that it’s going to be the movement that solidifies farming going forward,” says Bruce McConachie, Head of Industry Development at QMS...

Peace is offering Colombia's coffee trade a chance to grow

Colombia’s coffee-growing region was once a violent no-go zone where all the best beans were exported. But as peace has spread, an influx of coffee fanatics is revolutionising the landscape....Juan David Agudelo clings tightly to the back of a jeep bouncing out of Buenavista, a colourful coffee village situated on the edge of Quindio, western Colombia. In front of him, his customers – backpackers from Europe, North America and Bogota, the country’s capital – grow animated as the landscape slowly begins to reveal itself.

Rising food prices risks causing another health crisis

The rising cost of living could lead to public riots, civil unrest and a major food scandal on a scale not seen since the horsemeat affair in 2014, say industry experts. Almost 11 per cent of UK households are now experiencing food insecurity, the highest figures since before the pandemic. Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation and chief independent adviser to the National Food Strategy team, said: “Civil unrest and riots are directly linked to food insecurity and we have a growing crisis in the UK.” Sue Davies, head of consumer rights and food policy at Which?, said 69% of the public were affected by rising food prices.

England's water security is on a knife edge – but what is government doing?

Three years ago, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, warned that within 25 years England would not have enough water to supply demand, thanks to a growing population and climate change. Public water consumption would have to be cut by a third; water companies would have to half leakages; big reservoirs and desalination plants would need to be built and more water would have to be transported across the country. To tackle the challenge, five regional water groups are drawing up plans. However, there is concern that the voice of farmers is not being properly taken into account...

How Californian farmers are coping with a four-year drought

Agriculture accounts for 70% of the world’s fresh water use, yet 28% of all cropland globally is currently located in areas of high to extremely high water stress, according to the World Resource Institute. This includes 43% of wheat, 22% of oil crops, 35% of maize and 32% of legumes. Cereal crops in the US’s grain belt, most of Spain, Italy and vast parts of China and India fall into these areas, as well as parts of eastern England and the Midlands. Fodder crops across central and western parts...

A taste of Portugal's Alentejo region, from black pork to rich red wines

The silvery leaves of a 2,000-year-old olive tree are still budding green fruits. Its trunk curves around one of the Neolithic dolmens that scatter the landscape and line the drive to the São Lourenço do Barrocal estate. Perhaps, I muse, a shepherd sat here, chewing olives from this very tree and discarding the stones, back when the wheat fields fed Rome. “Olive oil is very important here,” explains Luis Lobato de Faria, an archaeologist and my guide for the estate’s olive-grove walk.

3 Aussie farmers tell their extreme drought stories

Australian farmers are used to coping without rain. But not like this. The drought sweeping northern and eastern states is now in its fourth year, making it the longest most have ever had to endure. The wet season last arrived in 2011. Large areas of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are experiencing “severe deficiencies” in rainfall, according to the Australian government’s Bureau of Meteorology, with some spots facing the driest 32 months on record. Farming businesses have been devastated...

Meet Côte d'Ivoire's trailblazing chocolatier

Under the shade of an awning, Rosine Bekoin leans over a fire, stirring a pan of roasting cacao beans — the main raw ingredient of chocolate. A rich, fruity scent rises into the air. Around her, 10 other women sing as they pound roasted beans into cocoa powder using 3ft-long pestles. Some, like Rosine, are in jeans and T-shirt, others in colourful wraps. They caramelise sugar over a fire, mix in pounded cacao, nutmeg and homemade palm oil, then roll the thick paste across a table to cool — a process known as tempering.

Rufugees in the UK struggle to access food aid during pandemic

Refugees and asylum seekers in the UK are struggling to access help for basics such as food during the coronavirus crisis, while barriers to work are causing financial hardship. The government’s recent move to raise the weekly Universal Credit amount by £7 excluded asylum seekers, while documentation and long phone queues are further blockers for those for whom English is not a first language. In Norwich, classified as a ‘City of Sanctuary’ for refugees and asylum seekers, charities say they they have been flat out trying to cope with increased calls for help.

The ancient trade that survived Covid

The spice trade has spanned the world for thousands of years – but the global pandemic almost brought it to a standstill. As the world went into lockdown, the complex networks that produce, transport, process and package spices were thrown into disarray. Who would harvest the crops? Who would run the processing plants? How could spices be taken to ports so they could be sent on to buyers abroad? And who would check the goods for safety? At the same time, global demand for spices was skyrocketing.

Farmers face 'humanitarian crisis' in wake of Covid

Farmers and workers of some of the world's biggest crops are facing a “humanitarian crisis” as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic as supply chains stall and prices drop dramatically. Staple crops in developing countries, such as bananas and tea, are facing in some cases huge drops in demand, problems with getting crops to ports, and a lack of labour for harvesting due to worker absences. There are also more direct fears over coronavirus: the rural locations in developing countries where many of these crops are produced lack access to basic health care, clean water, cleaning products, and PPE.

What it's like to be young and Venezuelan in a time of chaos

Gabriel Alfonzo Sanchez stands quietly at a stove in the Colombian beach hostel where he works, pushing his lunch of chopped vegetables and rice around a frying pan, the dog-tag around his neck jingling as he stirs. To the bikini-wearing backpackers busy squashing avocados in the background, nothing about him would seem out of the ordinary: he’s just another 26-year-old in surfer shorts and flip-flops, carrying his slender frame and wide shoulders casually, flashing a playful smile now and then.

Climate challenge: Modelling the cost on an arable farm

For the first time, the impact of changing weather patterns on a farmer’s pocket has been modelled. Jez Fredenburgh kicks off Farmers Weekly’s climate series looking at the effects on an arable enterprise....A farmer’s day is ruled by the weather. For arable enterprises, this is particularly so during key seasonal periods. But planning for the next week, month, or even year or two isn’t enough anymore, say advisers. Throughout November, farmers and growers will undertake innovative training from...
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