I am aware that I have not been doing much to keep people informed over the last months.
In part this has been because of the normal matter of keeping up with the seasonal demands of different harvests, but largely it has been because I have also been involved in something quite challenging to do with food.
I am a member of the Stafford Borough Climate change panel – This is made up of a range of different people with an interest in sustainability. Because of my long-standing involvement with the Farmers market, and my interest in food as an important element of prevention in health – then I took on the task of looking at Food and Farming.
You may have noticed over the last few years that there has been an enormous amount written on the many challenges that we face in our food systems. I could mention:
· Sustainability in the face of climate change,
· Security linked to global conflicts,
· work force – linked to our recent reliance on seasonal migrant labour,
· perception of work in food and farming,
· Affordability in relation to cost-of-living increases and financial insecurity
· Growing health inequalities which may be related to the availability of good quality food.
· Profiteering by commodities traders as a reaction to global shortages
· A £10billion trade deficit in fruit and vegetables
· The growing concerns about the impact of Ultra processed foods on the health of the population.
After spending a lot of time reading into all of these issues, I decided to try to bring together a wider group of people to look at what others are thinking, and what it might be possible to do.
I invited a few people to join me on a Whats app group – which has now grown to over 40 people.
I deliberately spread the net wide – because I felt that bringing any change to the nature of our food system was going to need many different perspectives.
We have farmers, food producers, chefs, people running food outlets, a permaculture specialist, a specialist in fermentation, as well as community organisers, voluntary sector managers, representatives of environmental groups, a retired public health worker, Food bank organisers, lots of people who like good food and want access to more of it, councillors, including the one who is leading on town center regeneration, people with a background in the food industry, as well as people with a long standing interest in sustainability.
With the discussions we have been having we are gaining a better understanding of where Defra, the government and different political parties stand on the issues, We are also seeing what different organisations, both within Staffordshire and in other parts of the country are doing as a response.
Within the next few weeks, the group should be beginning to have some meetings to thrash out questions of where we go from here.
If anyone is interested in joining us on the Rethink Food group then please contact me.